Delegate Spotlight: Mary Louise
Our blog series, Delegate Spotlight, feature past participants from SHARE’s major delegations. A delegate is someone who travels with a group (delegation) to El Salvador to learn about the history, politics, and people to better accompany the Salvadoran people. Interested in becoming a SHARE delegate? Check out our major delegation page for information on the upcoming International Solidarity Delegation in July!
Spotlight On: Mary Louise Chesley-Cora, Hockessin, DE
SHARE Delegation Experience: 2015 Churchwomen Commemoration Delegation
Why did I decide to participate? There was a strong spiritual “pull” to look at this possibility and then to take steps needed to participate. Initially, I knew no one in the delegation and went by myself.
What did I gain? I gained a much greater understanding of what happened in El Salvador in the past 50 years and the unfortunate role the US government played in the civil war there causing the deaths of thousands of the people as well as a greater appreciation of what is presently happening to build up hope and justice for the people, especially those who continue to suffer injustice and threats of terror from gangs and organized crime (mostly women and children). I was inspired by the strength of the women who seem fearless and determined to make their country a beautiful and safe place to live.
What was most memorable? The most memorable day was being with the people at the Mass on December 2 to celebrate the lives of these courageous and faith-filled women who were martyred at that spot 35 years before. It was also the exact day a year ago that I was celebrating the life of my dear husband, George, (12/2/14) at our parish of the Resurrection in Delaware. I envisioned them all “in glory”…rejoicing with us!
What was my favorite part? I was very touched by the great hospitality shown to our delegation as well as the gratitude of the people toward us to have come to “walk with, pray with and celebrate with” on their journey for greater justice and peace. Despite the tremendous losses and hardships, they showed great resilience, compassion and hope for their lives and those of their children. I also valued meeting all the delegates and sharing with them. I found “connections” I couldn’t believe with various ones. It was a wonderful group of “new friends” journeying together. Our team was also “outstanding”!!!
How was I challenged? I was challenged to be open to all kinds of new experiences, people, travel, language. I welcomed this opportunity to grow in faith, to support those who continue to work for justice and peace and to join them in prayer for a more hope-filled future.
For those thinking of joining a SHARE delegation: The SHARE opportunity was so well planned and organized. It included important meetings with representatives of the government, media and local people, meaningful prayer experiences, enjoyable times for meals and conversation as a group and with the local people. It was a wonderful, worthwhile experience and it made such a difference for the people there and for each of us in the delegation.
How does it continue to inspire?: It is only 2 months since the trip and I am still “unpacking” the experience and discerning how this can inspire and inform others to reach out in mercy, justice and reconciliation to these sisters and brothers in El Salvador. I would like to continue to be involved in some way but it is not yet clear what that will mean. I am filled with GRATITUDE for this experience and all the people I met during those days.