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Keeping Faith

Betty Sodomka-Daly began Transitions eight years ago to help women deal with what she calls the “unrecognized spiritual violence” of abortion.

The program, which is part of the Respect Life office of the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., archdiocese, helps women who have had abortions work through the emotional pain of their experience through one-on-one counseling, group therapy and peer support groups.

“When they find they can have their self-esteem restored and accept responsibility for the abortion, it’s freeing,” said Sodomka-Daly, a parishioner at Mary Mother of the Church in Burnsville, Minn. “We’re very clear that judgmentalism does not have a place in this program.”

The example of Jesus and what he asks us to do compels Peter Trebtoske to help others. “If one adheres to the gospels, one can hardly avoid volunteering,” he said.

Trebtoske, 65, has been giving his time as a respite care volunteer through a Catholic Charities program that provides relief for caregivers of the homebound and ill. The first two men Trebtoske helped had Alzheimer’s disease and in the end went to a nursing home and died there. “I became close friends not only with them for as much as they could communicate, but also with the spouses,” said Trebtoske, a member of the Basilica of St. Mary Parish in Minneapolis.

The man he helps now is “a little bit more cantankerous,” he said. “But we get along fine, and we hug at the end of the night.”

Mari Cleary says she shares the “gift of hospitality” as coordinator of Our Lady of Peace Parish’s participation in a program that provides shelter for the homeless. The Darien, Ill., parish staffs the PADS (Public Action to Deliver Shelter) site on the third Tuesday of every month.

Cleary works for two weeks before the Tuesday night, creating menus for the three meals the shelter will provide. She calls dozens of volunteers from the parish, assigning them food to buy and prepare. When the day arrives, she arrives at the shelter at about 3:30 in the afternoon and leaves the next morning at about 8:30, with a four-hour break to sleep. She oversees set-up, serving the guests and clean up, and offers counseling.

“I see Christ so vividly in everyone I come in contact with,” Cleary said.

Send suggestions for Keeping Faith to Teresa Malcolm at NCR. Her e-mail is tmalcolm@natcath.org

National Catholic Reporter, December 3, 1999