Following is a beautiful piece written by Elena Miranda from New York City. We are grateful for her words and photographs.
Lunch was over and it was time to return to the LCUSA Assembly meeting room. I was photographing the 2010 Assembly for the Ladies of Charity and I wanted to be ready for the afternoon session. I noticed a new table was being set up in the hallway area outside the meeting room doors. I glanced over at the beautiful packages and smiled at the women setting up the table. I didn’t really notice what they were selling and I continued on my way thinking, “Oh, that’s nice, a vendor.” I got my two cameras ready and waited for the meeting to resume. I was up in the front to get a shot of the past president as she introduced the next speaker, Rev. Becca Stevens. Becca was sitting up by the podium but she stepped down to address the LCUSA from the floor. My connection to the LCUSA is both professional and personal and so I was moving around taking photos and listening at the same time.
“Love Heals at Magdalene” was powerful, moving, inspiring and funny. Becca Stevens’ message, “that in the end, love is more powerful than all the forces that drive women to the streets,” became real to the audience when she introduced one of the graduates from Magdalene.
I got a few shots of the speaker and then stopped to listen. I was moved to tears as she shared her personal story of tragedy and triumph. Other women stepped forward from the back of the room to join her, all graduates of Magdalene. They told a little about themselves and then took questions from the floor. The women then spoke of Thistle Farms and the skin care products they produce, market, package and sell to help support their program. That vendor table with the pretty packages outside the meeting room took on a new meaning to everyone in the room.
Becca Stevens and the women of her program finished their presentation to a standing ovation from the Ladies of Charity. I followed them outside and went over to the Thistle Farms table before the meeting was adjourned. I wanted to make a purchase and help support the program in my own small way. As soon as a break was announced, the LCUSA members mobbed the Thistle Farms table.
The Ladies of Charity, women of faith and love, were obviously very moved by the story of love, kindness, compassion and triumph that is Magdalene. Their response to Becca Stevens and the graduates of Magdalene was tremendous. There were many smiles from both sides of the table that day. Becca Stevens is right; there is nothing more powerful than love.
Story and photos by