Monday, April 17, 2017

MARY ANN O'CONNOR, FOOT WASHER

CHRIST WASHING PETER'S FEET
FORD MADOX BROWN, 1852-6


I was out in the desert at Joshua Tree last week without wifi, but here's how my arts and culture Holy Week piece begins:

Mary Ann O’Connor, 69, is a cradle Catholic and the oldest of seven children.

She was born in Santa Monica, grew up in the San Fernando Valley and trained on-site as a nurse at L.A. County-General — an experience that had “a huge impact.”

She worked bedside for 12 years, served two years in the military during the Vietnam War and then moved into management and hospital leadership. And for the last four years she has traveled to the L.A. Catholic Worker soup kitchen on Skid Row to wash and tend to the feet of the poor.

“You really can’t do something like this without a place like the Catholic Worker,” Mary Ann said. “If you tried to do it anywhere else, you would have formalities related to licensing and liability.

“But you walk into the soup kitchen at Gladys and 6th, the heart of Skid Row, and you are free to do the work, not as an expert, but responsibly, thoughtfully,” she added.

Karan Founds-Benton, the lead person and organizer of the foot care ministry at the Catholic Worker, has been Mary Ann’s teacher and mentor. “Through her, I came to love the work. I owe her so much,” she said.

By and large, people make a commitment to show up by signing up when they come to the kitchen for their Thursday noon meal. The foot washers usually start with a list of about 12 people, and they take walk-ins when they can. They work from 8 a.m. to noon every Friday.


READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE. 

2 comments:

  1. Heather - when will you tell us what Good Friday and Easter are like in the desert? Did God seem closer in the silence? What is Joshua Tree like? What did you eat? Did you see anyone? Lacking desert experiences I am hoping you might shed some light on it! Happy Easter!

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  2. Heather, I too am looking forward to reading about your Triduum experience. Hope you are having a beautiful and grace-full Easter week!

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