Just west of Sky Harbor International Airport lies a small, close-knit, and resilient community that has been part of fabric of South Phoenix for decades. In the heart of that community is Sacred Heart Catholic Church – a parish with Vincentian volunteers that serve those in need in that community.
Susana is one of those Vincentian volunteers. She has been serving this community in the Sacred Heart conference for over 40 years. While she’s seen vast change with the continued development of the airport nearby, she’s also seen the resiliency of the people that call this area home.
“Although they’re poor,” she remarks, “they are not poor in spirit.”
This Thanksgiving, Susana reflects on the gratitude she feels in service and the miracles she’s witnessed delivering food boxes and aid to those in need – doing the work of God, she says.
“St. Vincent de Paul is just the heart of Jesus,” she says. “You see miracles happening. You think that miracles happen only in the old times, but miracles are happening with St. Vincent de Paul right in front of your eyes.”
Some time ago, Susana and her fellow Vincentians used to deliver food boxes to families at night after work. One night while they were out delivering, they temporarily got lost looking for an address. While they were trying to find their way to the house, they came across a woman and her three teenage sons standing out near the quiet, deserted street.
“She asked us who we were and what we were doing,” Susana remembers. “So, we told them. ‘Oh, this is truly a miracle,’ [the woman] says, ‘because we were praying for help. We need help so bad. We don’t have food. We don’t have money for our electricity.’”
The Vincentians gave aid to this struggling family and prayed with them as well.
Susana recalls another miracle she witnessed around the holidays.
When the Sacred Heart food pantry was smaller, the Vincentians needed help collecting more food, especially leading up to the holiday season. So, they went door-to-door around the community asking for help.
They came across an older woman who didn’t have a lot herself but wanted to give back. So, she gave them the only two cans she could spare. When Thanksgiving came around, the woman needed help herself. The Vincentians came with a big turkey, supplies to make pies, and vegetables for a full Thanksgiving meal.
Susana recalls the woman’s reaction to receiving this bountiful feast. “She said, ‘Thank you dear Jesus, because this is now given back to me ten times of what I gave you.’”
As a Vincentian, Susana feels honored to be able to do God’s work, and over the years this group at Sacred Heart has become like another family to her.
“We care for each other [in the community] just like we care for our own families,” she says.