By Jeff Hulbert, Mission Leader
Neither rain, nor snow or wind could stop the 50 members of the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School community from continuing the Love Walk for the Poor. Once again students, faculty, administration, parents, and Sisters, including Sr. Melanie Marie Bajorek, Sr. M. Thaddea Meyers. Sr. M. Faith Balawejder and Sister Betty, SIC joined the Walk, this year in 16 degree temperatures.
Near the end of Mass, Sr. M. Faith told the story of how the Love Walk began and how Sr. Louise Marie Olsofka, the creator of Love Walk for the Poor, was a Lover, Dreamer, and a Doer.
As a Lover, Sr. Louise loved God above all, her family, Felician Sisters and her teenagers. She always had an affinity with teens; she loved them, understood them, walked with them, gave them another viewpoint sometimes, challenged, and supported them.
As a Dreamer, Sr. Louise wanted teens to have an experience of what it might be like to be poor. In prayer and with God’s grace, she conceived the idea of the Love Walk for the Poor. On the Sunday closest to Valentine’s Day, teens would experience what it might be like to be homeless, walking in the cold, carrying all they owned; but instead of carrying their belongings, teens would carry items that could be shared with agencies that helped the poor. Sr. Louise also dreamed of worship, to witness the event and that it needed to started with Mass and conclude with a walk of Solidarity.
Sister Louise certainly was a Doer. The Love Walk started 29 years ago on the Northside, sponsored by Diocese of Pittsburgh Youth Ministry Office. The 1st group included 36 walkers, which soon blossomed to include families, Felician Sisters, Felician Associates and other interested people. As always, the Felician Core Values from Respect for Human Dignity to Transformation are incorporated into the day. Sr. Faith challenged those that were participating in the Mass, to also be lovers, dreamers and doers. She reminded the group that they are part of a legacy that must be carried out.
During the walk, the group stopped at the convent’s cemetery. The group recited prayers, led by Sr. Faith, at the grave of Sr. Louise Marie, who died on June 11, 2007. June 11 is also the day we celebrate the Feast of St. Barnabas, who was an “encourager” which is so fitting for Sr. Louise Marie, who was obviously a great encourager of all people. The walk ended in the Angela Activities Center, where the group deposited over 100 items for Our Lady’s Pantry and 200 baby items for Choices Center in Coraopolis.