MILDRED BRIONES, CATECHIST
A chance encounter at a catechist workshop was where I first learned of Vanspec, at the time administered by the Daughters of St Mary of Providence fostering faith enrichment to individuals with special needs. Upon my request to visit the center, Sr Rhonda Brown referred me to contact Sr Kathy Stark who showed me around the Main center, soon afterwards I volunteered. The Sisters had all returned to their base in USA due to personnel shortage, and since September 2017, the Coordinator, Lucy Rodjito, is at the helm of this ministry under Education and Formation Ministries and Outreach Office of the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
The individual whom I was assigned, was eager and forthcoming to introduce herself upon first contact. She garnered a unique presence with her persistence to practice her needs and to proclaim, “I did it!” at her achievements. Her mother fervently brings her to the Main center once a week rain or snow, where we would revisit activities and to expand where appropriate to fit her learning skills corresponding to the Liturgical calendar. And she has no hesitation when reminded that: “Jesus loves…… (she confidently claims) ………ME!” Along with other individuals with their respective activities, I am inspired and reassured of God’s love for his children during the show and tell period before they leave for the day. Being conscious of her mother providing 24/7 nurturing needs to her daughter, I am mindful of my student who has internalized over time, our one on one interactive routine, as such, our lesson time simultaneously allows her mother the respite away from caregiving knowing her daughter is engaged in a safe environment. Punctuality is part of my commitment: to get ready before they arrive on Saturday mornings at the center. We are many parts but we are One Body (1 Cor. 12:12). Volunteering is a passage of reflective encounters certain to enlighten an ongoing faith formation of the true presence of God reverently revealed and recognized. It is no coincidence our friend with special needs is given the name by her parents, “Faith”.……, the gift of life.