This remarkable story from the New York Times of Sr. Tesa helping women from the streets and prison is remarkable and an example of Catholic charity at its best.
Venita Pinckney grew up around Catholic schools and churches, and she thought she knew about nuns. Then a small, gray-haired sister named Teresa Fitzgerald came to fish her out of a Harlem crack house. Ms. Pinckney had been a drug addict for 23 years, a dealer and a prostitute, and had lost both of her children to foster care. She was high at the time.
“She looked past all that,” Ms. Pinckney said of the nun. “She must’ve hugged me for two hours.”
Sister Tesa, as she is known, helped Ms. Pinckney get into a residential drug program, then gave her a job and a room and helped her get her children back.
“I never thought there was people like that in the world,” said Ms. Pinckney, now a peppery 42-year-old overseeing a group home for other former offenders, with a three-bedroom apartment of her own, in a brand-new building Sister Tesa had constructed. “People that genuinely care.”
In an unglamorous pocket of Long Island City, Queens, between two of the nation’s largest public housing projects, dozens of women could tell comparable stories about Sister Tesa.
Twenty-seven years ago, answering an open call from an older nun, she started a home for children whose mothers were in the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. Last year she was honored by the White House….
Teresa Fitzgerald did not plan to find her life’s work among prisoners and their children.
On a recent morning in her basement office at Hour Children, http://hourchildren.org/#/1 the nonprofit organization she runs, she gestured to a verse from the Old Testament book of Micah: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
“What more can we do than that?” she asked. “ ‘To love mercy and walk humbly.’ When I get off track I look at that. Play it again, Sam.”