ONE: Why did you choose the Good Shepherd Sisters? ML: In the retreat, there was a visiting sister from Sudan, and she was telling us a story about how she works in Sudanese prisons with women prisoners and how these women are in bad shape — no toilets, no sanitary napkins. I was very inspired by how this sister helped them. And I could not believe a woman would be in this situation in Sudanese prison, losing her dignity with no one there but this one sister to help. This retreat, the second, was the turning point for me. That is when I told my family I wanted to be a Good Shepherd sister. The decision became very clear to me. My sister came back, got married and had two children; I went into the novitiate for two years. What really inspired me to join Good Shepherd was the fact that they would work with unrepresented people that needed help. I was inspired that they were not nuns who just prayed; they were nuns who helped the poor people. I could have gotten married and had kids and helped people and had a family, but maybe the person that I would have married would not have the same desire to help others. I did not want to be tied down; I wanted to give my life to help people. ONE: When did you take your final vows? ML: I made my final vows in 1998 in Beirut, at my parish. I was 29 years old. ONE: What motivates you? ML: I try to find what message God is sending me. I try to learn what God is trying to have me do.
“I try to find what message God is sending me … to learn what God is trying to have me do.” In 2005, I started looking at people in the villages and their suffering. The children used to play in a graveyard. Once, they burned the tail off a cat for fun. They had no normal games or activities. Their parents are illiterate and have no resources to rear their children. I felt the Bekaa region needed support, like sheep without shepherd. I was frustrated; I thought, “What can I do for children in this area?”
Sister Micheline, center, talks with a refugee from Homs, Syria, at his camp in Deir El Ahmar, Bekaa.
successful in their studies and their life, when I see them able to pass through the difficulties and continue to achieve. ONE: What have been some of your more difficult moments? ML: The more difficult moments are when I have nothing to give the refugees. It is so difficult for me.
ONE: So what did you do? ML: I started asking teachers in public school, “If I make a center for children to visit after school, will you help?” And the principal offered benches and desks for free, and teachers volunteered. On Christmas 2005, I began a new experiment: From 3 to 5 p.m. an after-school program for Lebanese children from 9 to 15 years of age. ONE: What have been some of your more rewarding moments? ML: The best moment for me is when I see the children happy,
ONE: What thoughts sustain you during difficult times? ML: I believe in human beings and God. I believe that God is capable of changing a person, when I see people improving from work, when I see success of people and developing. There is a saying: The candle that is just smoking, not lighted, still has a life in it — still has hope in it. I have no right to turn it off. I believe that even if a person is in a very bad situation, my mission is to show him the spark and light it.
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF CNEWA
The official publication of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA)