Martin Luther King Day Celebration
“Fall in love with the people, and they will call forth from you what they need.” This was the advice first given to Sisters Johnna Ciezobka and Susanne Dziedzic as they discerned beginning a ministry in Kingstree, SC, back in 1992. They followed through on that advice, as did Sister Jacqueline Benbenek after four years of bringing student volunteer groups to Kingstree and finally embracing the people and the ministry full-time in 2009. Their love and compassion for the people they serve has been made evident to Postulants Lauren Gault, Gina Garofalo, Michele Curry, and Director Sister Peggy Marie Rosehart who visited with the Kingstree Sisters and their ministry in January.
A beacon of compassion and hope for so many, the Sisters’ deep intuition of the needs of the people they serve was the impetus on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration. Thirty Kentucky Fried Chicken dinners were purchased to share with the residents of the Mets Hotel, a cluster of “for rent” hotel rooms sprawling beside the railroad tracks. Before passing out the food, Sister Susanne pulled a poster of Martin Luther King, Jr. from the van as the Sisters and Postulants found a place among the already-gathered community. Her dialogue with the residents revealed the immensity of respect held within their hearts for who Martin Luther King, Jr. was and what he did for African-Americans in our country. On its own track, the train blurred behind the gathering of white and black, sisters and brothers, while the song We Shall Overcome wafted in varied voices through the stillness of the moment.
The day continued in the convent with a solemn viewing of the movie Selma followed by an Evening Prayer service for peace. Michele led the prayer service that included a poignant collection of petitions formed around the words and speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Heart to heart, Kingstree has been an unforgettable experience of welcome and grace. “It was beautiful seeing the rich diversity and ecumenical spirit of the ministries in Kingstree. I am grateful for the opportunity Kingstree provided in allowing me to walk in the footsteps of Blessed Mary Angela,” expressed Postulant Michele Curry. Enfleshing Blessed Mary Angela’s message, “To love is to give—to give everything that love demands, give it quickly, without regret, joyfully, desiring only that more should be demanded of us,” the community of Kingstree, SC, has together with the Felician Sisters grown this message into a reality of love and daily self-giving.