April 5, 2018

Mahshid, Sister Lucinda Peightal and Pramela work on English language skills at the dining room table.

Mahshid and Pramela prepare a meal with Delphine Busch, Associate.

Pramela, Mashid and Tehras have become friends as well as housemates at the House of Mercy.

Every refugee has a unique story, but almost all of them share a common need – a safe place to live. With support from the Sisters of the Holy Names, Mariposa Ministries was founded in 2017 to provide a home and caring support for up to four women in transition who want to succeed.

Volunteers at the ministry’s House of Mercy in Portland, OR help the residents adjust to living in the United States and provide education so that they can be productive members of society. The house is also a sacred place for study, reflection and prayer.

Mahshid, the first resident to arrive, has become the ministry’s first success story. Mahshid, 47, came to the House of Mercy in October after spending four years in limbo on the island of Nauru. Originally from Iran, she is a gifted painter whose art hangs on the living room wall of the House of Mercy. In February, she found a job working as a baker for a company that operates neighborhood coffee shops in Portland.

Pramela, age 50, moved in the week before Christmas. A refugee from Sri Lanka, she suffered the loss of her husband during the two years they spent waiting for a host country to accept them. Sister Lucinda Peightal tutors Pramela in language skills three days a week, in addition to the many hours Pramela devotes on her own to improve her English so she can apply for a job.

The ministry’s volunteers warmly welcomed the most recent resident, Terhas, when she flew into Portland on March 14. Terhas is the youngest resident at age 30. She fled Eritrea, a country in the Horn of Africa that has been the subject of many human rights complaints. Terhas is just beginning her English studies with Sister Lucinda. She knows that English is the key to a job and a new life here.

This ministry reflects the commitment of the Sisters’ 34th General Chapter, which urges them to create intentional, mission-focused communities that will be intergenerational and intercultural in membership and will be aligned with the community’s major social justice commitments, called corporate stands. The Chapter envisions collaboration among SNJM Sisters, Associates, Lay Consecrated persons, volunteers and others in the formation of these communities. The House of Mercy is one small community responding to this call.