November 19, 2021

Love’s Litmus / Natalie Hoefer

What it means to ‘hope all things’

Natalie HoeferThe meaning of some lines in I Cor. 13:4-7 are clear—“Love is patient, love is kind” (I Cor. 13:4).

Others are more vague, like love “hopes all things” (I Cor. 13:7).

But with the words of Pope Francis and the actions of Providence Sister Dorothy Rasche, the meaning takes shape.

In his apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), Pope Francis comments on the words “love hopes all things.”

“The phrase speaks of the hope of one who knows that others can change, mature and radiate unexpected beauty and untold potential,” he notes.

This explanation perfectly describes the love Sister Dorothy feels for the female inmates she ministers to at the Rockville Correctional Facility in Rockville.

For her 24 years—and continuing—of serving in this capacity, she recently received the Corrections Ministry Service Award from the archdiocesan Corrections Ministry.

“I had been visiting men’s and women’s prisons for years,” she told The Criterion. She said the late Father Joseph Kuran, who at the time was pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Rockville, “asked if any of the Sisters of Providence would be willing to go with him to the Correctional Facility, and I said yes. That was in October of 1997.”

Each Friday evening from 7-8:30 p.m. she holds a Catholic worship service that all are invited to attend. The participants are currently involved in a Bible study on the Nicene Creed.

When asked what keeps her in the ministry, her answer is immediate: “Love of the women. I love them, and they love me.”

Sister Dorothy specifically loves “their humanness. They’re no different than any other person. They have the same problems, the same concerns, the same yearnings and desires as anyone else. They just happen to have gotten caught up in something ill and now are paying for it.

“Some of them are using this time to make life better for themselves and their families,” she added.

In a press release about Sister Dorothy receiving the award, Corrections Ministry coordinator Deacon Marc Kellams stated that “95% of those who are imprisoned are eventually released. If they are released with a love of the Lord in their hearts, they have a much better chance to be successful and thus not recidivate. Recognizing [Sister Dorothy’s] selfless service is a mere token of our appreciation.

“Ministry in the jails and prisons could not occur without the selfless acts of so many who have dedicated their time and prayer to serve. People like Sister Dorothy faithfully visit inside the walls and serve as the face of Christ to those who are so desperate for hope. Christ gives them that hope.”

The women are not the only ones who benefit from Sister Dorothy’s long term, loving presence.

“They strengthen my faith,” she said of the women. “Seeing the faith they exhibit under the circumstances. Their hope, their resilience—they inspire me.”

There are other groups in whom we as Catholics are called to “hope all things.” They’re often those marginalized by society—the poor, immigrants, refugees, the elderly, children, those with special needs, those suffering from an addiction.

You don’t have to look far for them. Often, they exist within your own family or among your friends—a spouse seeking employment, a grandparent who wonders what they have to live for, a child struggling in school, a friend suffering from a substance abuse disorder.

Perhaps you can be the one to show someone who is struggling that you believe in them, that you see their beauty, that you trust in their potential—that you “hope all things” in them.
 

(Send your stories of people you know who live out agape as described by St. Paul in 1 Cor 13:4-7 to Natalie Hoefer at nhoefer@archindy.org, or call 317-236-1486 or 800-932-9836, ext. 1486. Include your parish and a daytime phone number where you may be reached.)

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