Contact Information

153 Washington Place
Passaic, NJ 07055
(973) 470-0844

Monday, March 20, 2017

Listening to the Still, Small Dog

As our faithful readers know, from time to time we share spiritual essays in this space.  Today, we share with you an essay by Sister Ann Marie -- "Sometimes It's Not the Sunrise: Listening to the Still, Small Dog" --  that was published on the website, Global Sisters Report.  Click here to access the essay.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

National Catholic Sisters Week

Because the Passaic Neighborhood Center for Women involves collaboration among the religious communities of the Diocese of Paterson, it is appropriate that we share with you that March 8-14 is National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW).  Supported by a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, NCSW is a "series of events that instruct, enlighten and bring greater focus to the lives of women religious."  Click here to learn more about the week.

As part of NCSW, Sister Ann Marie was invited to join an online conversation with other women religious about the past, present and future of religious life.  The video of that conversation, held on Wednesday, March 8, is below.  (Email subscribers who do not see the video embedded in their email may click here to view it on YouTube.)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Where Have We Been?

Hello, faithful readers of Passaic Neighborhood for Women's blog!  Can you believe it's been almost two months since we last posted?

Here's what's been happening:

  • With the help of friends, we have continued our monthly "Know Your Rights" workshops for immigrants.  We continue to provide timely information to our women about where to find assistance with immigration questions and documents.  We are grateful to everyone who has helped us, including Claudia and Rosa and everyone from Make the Road New Jersey.   Additionally, Sister Ann Marie and several of our women participated in the "Know Your Rights" workshop offered by Mayor Lora at City Hall.  By encouraging our women to obtain information from the best possible sources, we hope to diminish their fears.  
  • We have completed the grant application for the fourth season of our garden.
  • In February, the "Agua Viva" women's group returned and will continue for two evenings each month.
  • Sister Pat Reynolds, SC,  is now teaching her Tuesday quilting class via Skype!  While this would not work in every situation, the relationship that Sr. Pat has formed with the women over the past 3+ years has allowed for a smooth transition into this phase of learning.
  • Speaking of the quilters:  Both they and the crocheters are busily preparing to be able to sell some of their items at the Diocesan Women's Conference to be held April 1 at St. Paul Inside the Walls, Madison, NJ.  Our women are grateful to have been asked to sell their items there.  If you're not busy on Saturday, April 1 from 9 to 1:30, why not come over to St. Paul Inside the Walls for the conference?  (Our Director, Sister Ann Marie, is one of the three speakers.  Click the link above for registration information.)
  • We have had lots of visits from collaborators:  Araceli and Joanne from the City of Passaic Department of Health have come by to talk about more formal collaboration; Liz, the new Director of Constituent Services of Assemblyman Gary Schaer, came by to see how their office could be of assistance to our women; Casey, the Associate Director of Mission Advancement for the Sisters of Christian Charity, came by to learn more about our ministry.
  • Sister Elaine is coordinating our first professionally-produced promotional video, in collaboration with Caitlin Fitzgerald from the Diocese of Paterson (and made possible by a grant from the Franciscan Sisters of Peace).
There's more to report, so stay tuned . . . In the meantime, we ask for your prayers for our women and their families, as we continue to pray for all of you!

Thursday, January 12, 2017


The Passaic Neighborhood Center for Women is a collaborative ministry that provides a peaceful and safe environment for women to meet, share and grow. The Center is guided by the belief that when women are empowered, the family is strengthened.  Through the support of the Diocese of Paterson and its religious communities, through the donations of generous benefactors, through grants from religious communities and the County of Passaic, through the hard work of our staff and volunteers, through our collaboration with other organizations, and through the dedication of our women, we are very happy to share with you that we have surpassed 6,000 visits since opening our doors in September 2013!  During this time, our faithful volunteers have worked over 3,300 hours -- not only planting gardens and teaching English, quilting, crocheting, computers, art and Rosetta Stone, but touching lives and strengthening families in one of the poorest areas of New Jersey.

Currently, we are happy to distribute a multitude of diapers and baby wipes to our women, thanks to the generosity of donors, old and new.  Additionally, Sister Elaine is coordinating our very first, professionally-produced, promotional video.  

What else is in store for 2017?  Stay tuned to our blog and website to find out.  

In the meantime, we say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


Today is January 3.  How are you doing with your resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, pray more, read more, work less, be kinder, be less stressed, spend more time with family, or a whole host of other possibilities?  Are you frustrated by your lack of resolve already -- only three days into the new year?  If so, we at the Passaic Neighborhhod Center for Women would like to offer one word to help you get back on track:  hoy.

Hoy?  Yes, hoy!

Translated from Spanish into English, the word hoy means "today."

So, why is our word not "today," rather than hoy?  Are we suggesting that you should add learning Spanish to your well-intentioned,  but seemingly fading, resolutions?

Allow this photo to answer your question:

Indeed, it is a Christmas banner containing the word "HOY," and it currently hangs in Sister Ann Marie's office at the Center.  The word appears on the wall hanging as a result of a miscommunication.  The woman who sewed the banner wanted to affix the English word "JOY," but with Spanish and English pronunciations being what they are and with the intermingling of Spanish and English so frequently in our lives at the Center, the end result became a beautiful Christmas wall hanging containing the word "HOY"  -- that is, TODAY.  And we don't consider that to be a mistake!  In fact, we embrace it!  It is one of the words that guides our lives!

At the very beginning of the Center's ministry, months before we opened our doors to the women for the first time, a wise mentor advised that we should have as our goal to do one thing each day.  That got us through the hard times when, some days, we could only point to that one thing we did.

As time went on and the Center opened and grew, we realized that we only needed to be able to get through the day.  So, we opened the doors in the morning and closed them in the afternoon, being able to look back and appreciate the day, learning what we could learn and preparing for the next day.

Now, over three years into this ministry, planning and preparation for the future are more formalized, but we retain the ability to focus on TODAY.  Following the advice of Jesus in Matthew 6:34, we try not to worry about tomorrow, as "tomorrow will take care of itself" and "sufficient for a day is its own evil."  To focus only on TODAY, on this moment, makes it easier to celebrate the successes and bear the mistakes.

So, dear friends, as we re-commit ourselves to our resolutions, we must remember to focus only on TODAY, not five months from now, or even five days from now -- only HOY!

May God bless your 2017 abundantly!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Longing for Light(s)

(As we pause to catch our collective breath this week, we hope you'll permit a few Christmas reflections from Sister Ann Marie to replace our usual reporting of events at the Passaic Neighborhood Center for Women.)

Longing for Light(s)

Around this time of year, many people face a common dilemma – the fully-functioning Christmas tree lights we placed in storage in January or February have become non-functioning Christmas tree lights in December.  So, we make sure that all bulbs are present and secure in their socket, we plug them in again and hope for the best. When this does not produce the desired result, we consider whether it is worth our time to troubleshoot further or to brave the hordes of Christmas shoppers and buy new lights. 

But lights connected to some “pre-lit” trees can present an addition level of frustration.  That is, some pre-lit trees have strings of lights permanently affixed to the branches.  When lights malfunction on these trees, you must decide whether to buy a new tree, purchase and attach strings of lights that may or may not match the functioning lights, or employ potentially extensive troubleshooting.

Those who know me well can attest that my personality type is one of an “off-the-charts” problem solver.  Those who know me best know that I live in a small convent community of “off-the-charts” problem solvers.  So it should come as no surprise that, when presented with a pre-lit Christmas tree that had become a “partially-lit” Christmas tree in our convent home, we rolled up our sleeves and tried to figure it out.  Knowing that just one missing bulb can make the whole string malfunction, we checked to be sure that all sockets contained bulbs, filling those that did not.  Then, we double-checked that all bulbs were secure in their sockets.  Following this painstaking procedure, I would like to have reported that all bulbs glowed like the Star of Bethlehem – but, none of them offered even a sliver of a twinkle. 

This did not make sense!  After all, Christmas tree lights work in parallel circuits. (Everyone knows this, right?)  When all bulbs are present and secure in their sockets, those with intact filaments should light while those whose filaments are broken will never light again.  So, why were none of the lights of many of these strands still unlit?  Our next step was to check the fuses embedded in the plug.  How exciting it was when replacing one set of fuses made a difference, lighting at least 75% of the unlit strands! At this point, we had spent so much time problem solving that we had begun to consider how to best position the tree that the still-unlit parts could not be seen from the front.  But, the unlit parts were distributed throughout the tree, so no matter which way we turned it, dark patches faced the front.

Retrieving a strand of similar lights from storage and determining that they lit, we began to test every single socket of the tree bulbs with a bulb that should have lit.  We didn’t count, but I would guess we were up to the 30th socket when the lights went on!  There were smiles and shouts and high-fives . . . and a small strand of still-dark light bulbs! 

Yes, we continued to troubleshoot and no, we did not completely solve the problem.

Our extensive problem-solving session had produced only a partial solution, but we were out of time, energy and answers.  The tree’s lighting was so much better than when we had started.  By repositioning lit branches around unlit branches, we were able to hide the flaws and have a presentable, but far from perfect, Christmas tree for 2016.

And, in the process, we discovered that an imperfect Christmas tree is a perfect Christmas prayer.

In the midst of imperfect preparations and celebrations this Christmas season, we invite you to join us in our perfect Christmas prayer, which encourages us to:
  • Prefer light over darkness. Not once did we consider an unlit Christmas tree as a viable option.    Since Christmas is about the coming of the “true light which enlightens everyone” (Jn 1), we must prefer light over darkness – always and all ways. 
  • Long for the Light.  Obsessing over Christmas tree lights during the fourth week of Advent allowed us to long more deeply for the Light to come at Christmas.  After all, why were we doing any of this – or why do we do anything that we do – if not for our longing for Jesus, the Light of the World?
  • Persevere in spite of imperfection.  What better example do we have of this than the story of the birth of Jesus? That story is filled with imperfections!  An unwed mother, her betrothed about to divorce her, going into labor while traveling, no room to stay, giving birth in a stable, fleeing to Eqypt and the unspeakable killing of “the innocents” – these are decidedly not the ingredients of perfection. Yet, both Joseph and Mary persevered because there was simply no way that they could allow the darkness to overcome the light.  Through their perseverance in spite of serious imperfections along the way, we are saved.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Blessed Christmas

Christmas ornaments made by our women

Everyone at the Passaic Neighborhood Center for Women wishes you and yours a very blessed Christmas.  Thank you for your ongoing support.  You are the reason we can continue to serve so many Passaic families.