by Theresa Davis.
Cathy Maynard, the director, Phil Knight, and I drove from Canada in a very used Packard to open a Madonna House in a place where Catherine Doherty told us, "All you have to do is to stretch out your arms from the window to pick any fruit you want." It turned out that the only tree in Southside, our neighborhood in Winslow, was the poplar in our yard.
We didn’t have a house when we arrived, and our first home was with the Gonzales’ who opened their hearts and home to us. Then when our house on the Santa Fe Railroad property was ready, we moved next door to Felicia and Valentine Lopez.
Fr. Hannon, our pastor, had pushed for our coming to Winslow. He now presented us with twelve young "rebels" to feed and nurture.
We also taught catechism to all the grades of the public schools, including teens and young adults. It was a challenge, especially for Phil who was teaching the "tough" young boys. But they soon learned to respect him when he wrestled them down to the ground. It turned out he had been a champion wrestler at college.
The wonderful women taught us to cook Mexican-style, and we came to be among the best frijoles cooks in Southside.
The teenagers soon learned to love us as we loved them, and we became their confidants and advisers for both their spiritual lives and their love lives. "As my Italian mother would say," Cathy would tell them, "a boy is as good as a girl allows him to be."
The young people soon began to call her "Miss Winslow." And so she was. She loved the people of Winslow and was in great demand for her listening heart and wise advice.
When I was transferred from Winslow, I cried so hard. I had become so bonded with the people. It was our first house, Cathy’s and mine, and the fourth mission house established by Madonna House.
Though so many of our friends of fifty years ago have passed into the glory of eternity, I still have spiritual and emotional roots in Winslow.
And fifty years later, the Casa goes on witnessing to God’s passionate love of those wonderful people, and of their love for us and ours for them.
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