Puppets & pizza

In this episode, Rocky Pierson shares her conversation with #NCSW2017 mini-grant recipient Sister Geraldine Woodarczyk. Sister Geraldine talks about mission and ministry, student to sister conversations, and service during the Department of Consecrated Life-Diocese of Pittsburgh event, Puppets and Pizza.

Transcript:
Phone dialing out

Sister Geraldine Woodarczyk:
My name is Sr Geraldine Woodarcsyk. I’m a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth, and I’m the Delegate for Religious for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. And, during National Catholic Sisters Week we sponsored, together with the Pittsburgh Religious Vocation Council, which is a group of sisters from all of the religious congregations here and we have one brother that comes, and we decided to do a joint project so that the smaller groups could participate together. So, we work with the Campus Minister from Robert Morris University. And, we did what we call Puppets, Pizza, and Peru. And, it gave us an opportunity to mingle with the students. About nine of the sisters came. And, Br Michael came. We had an opportunity to visit with the students, and we made puppets for Chimbote, Peru, which is the Diocesan Mission. And, they go into the barrios there, and they are going to be taking the puppets down.

So, the students have the option of making two puppets, one for themselves and one for the children. Most of them chose to just do one for the children, and they were happy to be part of it. We had about 90 students participate, and we created about 150 puppets. What was kind of good with that. . . You know, we kind of have this generation gap in communities now. We’re not that involved, many times, with the younger generations. So, there was a little bit of shyness at the beginning, but by the time . . . Well, it was a very free-floating evening in the cafeteria area at the university. And, by that time, the sisters were in conversation with the students, and they weren’t shy anymore either. So, it was a good mix. It just gave us an opportunity for the sisters to, again, be with the young people. We often don’t have that opportunity today because of our various ministries. And, even the mission office here was excited that this interaction was happening. And, two of the students are going to Peru. They are going to be one of the people delivering the puppets.

Rocky Pierson:
Oh, cool! It sounds like a lot of fun.

Sr Geraldine:
It was. And, it was funny because Sr Angenina, she’s from my community, she’s really the creative person behind it. And, she kept saying, “I don’t think these young people are going to want to do this; I just don’t think they’re going to want to do this.” By the time the evening was over, we saw these young men, football player size, making these puppets and young women doing the same thing. So, it was really interesting to see how engaged they were in the process.

[BREAK]

Rocky:
What did you guys learn from this experience?

Sr Geraldine:
Well, one was that I just observed how shy we can be in terms of reaching out to the younger people because we haven’t had that contact. Some people’s ministries haven’t ever been with young people. So, I kind of saw this happening. But, I saw that gradually those boundaries kind of melted. There was this interaction, and even this ability for some private conversation to go on, and further involvement with wanting to serve in the church or to even want to even just understand the faith a little more. That was probably very quiet. It wasn’t broadcast, but I did see it happening. And, I know we had with us a couple of women who part of volunteer programs that a couple of religious congregations have. And, they were also part of the group to meet the students and introduce that program to them. And so, there were some contacts made in that too. So, I think it was a wonderful learning experience. And, the campus minister I think should be credited too because he was the one who took the risk to meet with us. And, he kept telling us that it is very important just to be present, and to bring ourselves into the situation and to invite the students to come into that. And, vise versa. When the students are having something, we need to come to that and be part of that. And, I think that this is all new learning to us. It may not be new learning for a lot of people, but for some of us, it is.

Rocky:
Do you think that you might do an event like this again?

Sr Geraldine:
Well, the students want to. They are already talking about next year.

Rocky:
Awesome!

Sr Geraldine:
So, we’re trying to think of something different besides the pizza and the puppets. We might have another kind of interaction that would still be of service to somebody else, but it would be a little bit different. You know, who knows. We were talking about it last week, and we were talking about possibly taking it to another campus or inviting some other students to come. But, to continue the interaction throughout the year, and not just waiting for this one-time event to do this. Although, we could have something for next year. And, we actually need a bigger place. We realized that the room we had was much too small.

Rocky:
Gotcha.

Sr Geraldine:
Which was a happy surprise.

Rocky:
Yeah!

[BREAK]

Sr Geraldine:
When I walked around and saw the look on the faces of the students and the sisters. . . And, we put all of the puppets in a box. It was an exciting moment. And, the students began to identify with that, saying, “that’s mine, that’s mine.” They were part of something bigger than themselves. And, I just remember feeling a good sense of energy in the group. And, I thought that was helpful. And, I think that’s the basis of evangelization too, to develop the relationships and to create opportunities where we can bring the church in action in small ways, in kind ways, and loving ways and bridge groups together. So, I thought that was, probably for me . . . It brings back a lot of happy memories, despite the cold weather we had that day. It was a good experience. I had worked in Campus Ministry before, and I knew how difficult it was sometimes to bring students together for things because they are so busy. And, they not only have their families and their studies, but they also have extracurricular activities. But, it was wonderful to see this group of people gathered together with that kind of energy.

About Be Inspired

A podcast chronicling the success stories of National Catholic Sisters Week - an annual celebration of women religious. Each episode will present interviews with NCSW Mini-Grant recipients to present a picture of the celebration's growth and highlight the valuable impacts of women religious all across the country.