Joined Together in the Mission of Charity

Looking Past Tattered Clothes and Messy Hair

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By SCIC Associate Agathe Joly:

Getting to know the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception was a life-changing experience for me. Sister Mary Beth McCurdy’s simplicity, openness and love for the poor attracted me to join her in a ministry to the poor in the Inner City of Edmonton’s Bissell Centre.

After 24 years we are now a team of 10 who meet every Tuesday to cut hair, mustaches and beards for the men and women who frequent the inner city drop-in centre. Two of us are Associates of the SCICs. Associate Diane Legris and I coordinate this team. We accommodate from 20 to 25 people every week. Some do the organizing, calling people by name, giving them a towel and shampoo. The only criteria to a hair-cut is to have clean hair.

This experience among the less fortunate opened my mind, my heart and changed my attitude toward the poor and often homeless. I quickly realized that men are also victims of abuse on the street, in the homes and in relationships.

We often have the privilege of hearing their stories and life experiences which we hold in our hearts as a gift for prayer.

After being newly groomed, a young fellow who had chosen a major change in appearance looked in the mirror and asked in disbelief: ‘Is this really me?’ Seeing the smile on their faces, the happiness in their eyes is the reward that I have come to call magic! Almost divine! Having a better image of oneself is the beginning of many changes often unseen by the human eye.

As an associate of the SCICs I discovered how enriching it is to rub shoulders with the poor, women and men who teach me the true meaning of life and love.

I like to think that it is in the spirit of Jesus and St. Vincent de Paul that we have the privilege to minister to the less fortunate and find ourselves changed by being in their company. Like the young man who felt so excited about his new image, I too feel the same way while being in their midst. I humbly ask myself: ‘is this really me?’

Agathe Joly
National Associate Coordinator (West)
SCIC Associate
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Associates & Affiliates are lay women and men who formally partner with vowed members of a congregation to witness in the mission of the Church. While remaining independent, they share the same spirit of charity towards the poor and participate in prayer & activities with the sisters. Contact us to learn more about becoming an Associate or Affiliate.

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Comment(1)

  1. REPLY
    Mary Ellen Doyle, SCN says

    This is the sort of service to the homeless that we don’t often think of or expect to hear about. It is heartwarming to hear of it and to see the images and the accompanying smiles that tell what a fresh and attractive appearance means to every person’s self-image and self-respect. Thank you for this witness to the gospel in action.

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