Contact Information

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

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.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Celebrating Christmas

On Tuesday, the women of the Center hosted a small Christmas celebration.  We are always happy when our women are in charge of the food, as we get to sample delicacies made by good cooks from various cultures.  We are doubly happy when the women are in charge, because their sense of ownership of the Center means that we are on the right path toward fulfillment of our mission.  As you enjoy some photos of the celebration, know that we are especially grateful to our supporters who make the Center possible.  Thank you and God bless you abundantly -- at Christmas and always!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Knowing Our Rights

Today we are pleased to host a "Know Your Rights" workshop for the women of the neighborhood.  This workshop provides a forum for our women to express their need for more information regarding the intricacies of immigration laws in the United States.  Providing a safe and peaceful environment for this type of workshop is a direct fulfillment of the mission of the Passaic Neighborhood Center for Women.  We are so very grateful to our presenters, Claudia, Rosa and Rosalba, who are giving their time today to help our women.

Thank you, Claudia, Rosa and Rosalba, for a stimulating
and informative presentation that will greatly assist the
women of Passaic!

Friday, December 9, 2016

When is a tree more than a tree?

The Christmas tree in this photo is located at the Paterson Diocesan Center in Clifton, NJ. Note that some of the ornaments are rectangular, while some are star-shaped or tree-shaped.   Initially, the tree was decorated with the rectangular ornaments, which contained requests for food assistance for the women of the Passaic Neighborhood Center for Women.  When someone takes the ornament to fulfill the request, that ornament is replaced with a star or tree ornament with the donor's name written on it.  In this photo, the star ornaments are readily visible.  Take a good, reflective look: These ornaments represent families that will have food this Christmas because of the generosity of the employees of the Paterson Diocese -- for the second year in a row!  These are the same people who have supported us in so many ways over the past three (plus) years.

So, when is a tree more than a tree?  When it is filled with the love of  brothers and sisters for their brothers and sisters in need.  "Whatever you did for these least brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me" is a lived reality today and every day at the Diocesan Center!  We are so very grateful!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Crocheters' Outreach

Sister Anne Moroney, SC, and Luz Flores accept baby blankets
for newborns at St. Mary's General Hospital, Passaic.

On Tuesday, our friends Sister Anne Moroney, SC and Luz Flores visited the crocheting class to accept a gift on behalf of the babies born at St. Mary's General Hospital, Passaic.  Sr. Anne and Luz comprise the Community Health Outreach Department at St. Mary's.  We collaborate with them frequently -- sometimes daily.  So, when our crocheters wanted to do community outreach, it was only natural that they would create blankets to be given to the parents of babies born at St. Mary's when the babies are discharged.  We are thrilled that the babies of Passaic will be wrapped in the love of the women from the Passaic Neighborhood Center for Women.  Thanks to our Associate Director, Sister Elaine, FSP, for coordinating this project.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

From Taiwan to Passaic

You will recall back in October (see this post) that our crocheters made eyeglass/cell phone cases that were taken to the General Chapter of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God (SMIC) in Taiwan.  Now, we are able to show photos from Taiwan of the delegates and leadership with their cases!  Thanks to Sister Eleanor and Sister Joanne for making these photos possible.  We also thank all of the SMICs (all over the world!) for their consistent support of the Passaic Neighborhood Center for Women.

(As a side note, in the first photo below, second from left, you'll see Sister Johanna Ndjaula, SMIC, who is a graduate of Assumption College for Sisters (ACS), a sponsored work of the Sisters of Christian Charity (SCC).  What a wonderful thing!  A photo taken of SMICs in Taiwan with a SMIC from Namibia, who was taught by the SCCs in Mendham, NJ!)