We all have special people who come into our lives and leave lasting impressions. Father Vince O'Flaherty was one of those people for me. I lived with Father Vince, a Jesuit priest, in my senior year of college at Regis University in an intentional faith community in a low-income Latino barrio in Northwest Denver called Romero House. At age 70, Father Vince was our leader, living amongst 20-something year old college students, learning to cook for the very first time in his life, leading us by his example of selflessness. One of the things he would always say was, "There are no secondary causes." The gentle hand of God was present in all things for Fr. Vince. This is a very Jesuit concept and I am grateful I learned this from him.
This week in Guatemala I have been reminded of that sentiment over and over again. This is our seventh year on this trip. The community we first encountered 6 years ago went from having never had a physician in their village to having a fully functional, independent clinic in that time span. This year that community has 17 groups coming to volunteer this year. And in a little over a year one of their young men, whom we met as a community health worker 6 years ago, will graduate from medical school in Guatemala and come back home to serve that clinic year-round. So we made the difficult decision last summer that when we were planning for this year's trip we would probably be of better service to move on from our old village and start anew with a community who did not have so much help. It was difficult to think of not seeing our wonderful families of Patanatic again, but they had many helpers at this point.
Each time we have presented Roland with a new problem, he works at it and solves it. He knows pretty much everyone in Guatemala and has a heart for helping - especially for helping people feel empowered to help themselves. We were waiting in the bus at a bank one afternoon after clinic so the Xavier students could exchange some of their money. I saw Roland warmly greeting two beautiful adolescent Guatemalan girls in their pristine school uniforms, who were clearly delighted to see him. When he joined us on the bus I asked him who they were and he told me he had known them since they were toddlers. They were HIV orphans and he knew them from the group home in which they live. So, literally we go from him knowing the CEO of a major international water filtration company to these two HIV orphans.
Roland and Lisa walking into Rabbi Abie's office that day this summer was definitely the work of the gentle hand of God. There are no secondary causes.
Lauri Pramuk, MD