Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Sometimes we give help, sometimes we need help. Dental Version.

This morning I met with the director who oversees the St. Vincent de Paul ministries at the Catholic church I used to work at. I was there to interview her for a mini-article (excruciatingly short: half a page!) about SVDP's work alongside families who come here as migrants--especially people who are refugees or asylum seekers.
I hadn't seen the director in almost fifteen years; it felt like a homecoming.

Afterward I had a dentist appointment--my first in six years. 
(Why have I let so many things lag?)

The dental hygienist who I've seen in years past was telling me about her trip to Paris and, unexpectedly, got talking about the patron saint of Paris--St. Denis--and how he's represented on the cathedral of Notre Dame holding his severed head.

 The hygenienist said to me, "You were raised Catholic, weren't you?"

"I'm still Catholic," I responded.

If it'd been last week, would I have said the same?
Not sure. 
The Church has a boatload of problems, but after twisting and turning every whichway, I have to say, they fit me.

I don't mean I'm personally guilty of raping children, no! 
But on a lesser scale, all the general fucked-upness of being human, yes.
Like not going to the dentist for [mumbledy-mumble] years.


And Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, am I going to pay for it. A diagnosis of four fillings, one crown, and one referral to an endodontist later, I can tell you:
go in for cleanings!

However, it's not as bad as I feared.

After the dentist did his exam, I said, 
"I'm not in danger of dying, am I?"

He and the hygienist laughed. 

A lot. 

And reassured me, no, no, my dental health was nowhere near that bad.

I also asked the hygienist who the patron saint of dentists is.

She knew: 
St. Apollonia.

She had a bad time of it, as you can imagine from her becoming the patron saint of a helping profession nobody likes. 
But she did get depicted by one of my favorite artists, Francisco de Zurbarán.

So--here's the mini-article I just wrote up after my adventurous day.
To Help and Be Helped: St. Vincent's Immigrant Support Ministry

Before he was a saint, Vincent de Paul was a slave––a victim of human trafficking. In 1605, when Vincent was  24, pirates captured the ship he was on off the coast of France and sold him into slavery in North Africa. He promised God that if he escaped, he would spend his life helping others. With the help of a Muslim woman, Vincent did escape. And he spent his life fulfilling his promise, serving people in need, including those fleeing hunger, poverty, and war.

Today, those same human-made disasters force thousands from their homelands every day. The United Nations estimates 258 million migrants are scattered around the world––including Minnesota.

The SVDP Immigrant Support Ministry at the Basilica of St. Mary follows Vincent’s example to “serve, accompany, and defend” newcomers from troubled regions. Since 2015, teams of SVDP volunteers have walked alongside 11 families as they start over again. The families originally came from Burma, Iraq, and Somalia, but many lived in refugee camps in other countries before arriving here.

Besides big things like housing and education, it’s little things that help newcomers feel at home: warm coats for winter, baby clothes for a newborn, furniture for an empty apartment, and household items such as a used vacuum cleaner. The SVDP ministry provides these things in various ways, including vouchers to shop at SVDP Thrift Store.

The work is ongoing. Like Vincent, sometimes we need help, sometimes we give help. Either way, SVDP is a good place to come together for our common good.
For more information:
SVDP Refugee/Immigrant Ministry at the Basilica of St. Mary

P.S. That web page ^ is not up to date, so, in the way of these things, I also volunteered to update it.
As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

P.P.S. Floss your teeth!


Bink said...

Nice little article for SVDP! And OMG, the dental work! Good thing you know which saints to turn to.

Fresca said...

Thanks, bink. I should refer all my dental prayers to our departed friend, Dr. Fred Noble, eh?