If you ever toured the Refugio for even an hour, you probably walked away knowing that Madre Chuy and her laundry room was its heart. And perhaps, like me, you may have an empty spot in your own heart knowing our lives and those of the children are no longer being touched by this humble, hardworking woman who has recently left the Refugio to live once again with her dear friend Madre Marcella in the Guadalajara area.
Of the many hours I volunteered,there were only a few times that she asked for anything. Once was for a strand of Christmas lights for the little tree she and the children had decorated, and another was for scissors to trim the children’s hair. Lastly, she once asked for thread to make much needed repairs on some clothing…..I can still see the look of delight on her face when I arrived with a container of 24 different colors!
She was always very resourceful. Once when my husband was picking up debris, he cut his finger on a fragment of glass. She asked Elena to get her an onion, from which she removed a thin piece of skin and applied it directly to the cut. It worked like magic to stop the bleeding, and as a veterinarian, my husband was very impressed!
My personal favorite day at the Refugio was Sunday. My husband and I would arrive early and I would help Madre Chuy dress the children for church. When this was accomplished, down that steep hill we would go to the little church below – sometimes with as many as 15 children in tow. Going to church was a treat for them; a day to dress up in the beautiful clothes donated by so many of you. Our job during the service was to remind the girls to keep their knees together and to separate the boys if their fidgeting turned toward eminent “war” – at times this was quite a challenge, especially if a sleep deprived Madre Chuy took a short nap before communion! I think what she liked best though was when we handed out to the children the small coins we collected throughout the week for the offering. This was confusing for most of those children – money was not something they had much experience possessing – and to be given it and then promptly asked to place in the basket was a difficult task..but when they would look at her she would simply smile and nod her head “yes”. The lesson of giving she was teaching them was obvious.
Madre Chuy’s love, commitment and dedication will be greatly missed. She was not a saint, but she was the closest thing to one I will ever have the honor of knowing. There are so many of us who are sad knowing that she and her servant heart no longer grace the Refugio, but a job well done is a job worth recognizing.
Thank you Madre Chuy, we love and miss you.