Christmas at Dawn – Sister Gwynette Proctor, SNDdeN

Dec 23, 2023 | Gospel Reflections

December 25, 2023

Luke 2: 15-20

The scriptures for the Fourth Sunday of Advent remind me that Mary and Joseph were a homeless family standing outside the inn on that cold night with nowhere to go. When Jesus was born, he was homeless in a stable because “there was no room for them in the inn.” Imagine for a moment how Mary and Joseph felt. They were facing an uncertain future, they might have been stressed knowing their child, “our soon to be Savior” will be born, but where?

During my years as the Director of Our Daily Bread, I was privileged to interact with poor, homeless, unemployed, and under-employed people living on the fringe of our communities. They are people who have experienced enormous challenges that unraveled their lives. My daily interactions were with people of God who are gracious, kind, generous, grateful, peaceful, and so much more. The conversations we had as they waited to be served often focused a strong belief that God is with all of us. Despite their current situation, they spoke to me about Jesus being close at hand, and having faith that sees them through each day.

Today, we often villainize the homeless and the poor; we look at them as some other worldly being. What can we learn from these scriptures when we stop to reflect on the wisdom of our “good God” to introduce His only son to our world as a “homeless child?”
The scriptures tell us, “All who heard the message were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”

“Jesus came to show the world that all people are God’s children.” We are invited every day to “see with new eyes” the people who walk through our lives.

 

Luke 2: 15-20

When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.
The Gospel of the Lord

 

 

Meet Sister Gwynette Proctor, SNDdeN

Sr. Gwynette Proctor was raised in Baltimore City, Maryland and attended 12 years of Catholic School. Her early calling to devote her life to serving those less fortunate in our communities was drawn from witnessing the unselfish life of charity and generosity of her parents. Gwynette enjoyed living in an expanding family. In addition to growing up with her biological sister and two brothers, her parents adopted her older brother who came from an abused home life. Again, reading the church bulletin, they discovered there were abused children living at Stella Maris who were wards of the state. Our family agreed we could help another child. Gwynette travelled with her parents to pick up the child who would stay with them on weekends, holidays, and summers. They went to pick up one child and returned home with four children. Her parents couldn’t bring themselves to bring one child home and leave her brother and two sisters at the institution. The family grew from four children to nine children over a short span of one month. Her parents saw a need and they responded as best they could. Gwynette knew that she wanted to replicate the actions of her parents all throughout her life. Her service to the Archdiocese of Baltimore spans over 30 years in various leadership positions such as the Director of Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen. Sr. Gwynette administered a program through Catholic Charities that serves 700 -800 meals daily to the homeless, the working poor, and those who live on edges of our communities. Her next ministry was to serve as the Director of Christopher Place Employment Academy where she developed an employment academy for formerly homeless men, with a residential component that supports addiction recovery. She then traveled to New England to serve the new immigrant community in Lawrence, Massachusetts, as the Executive Director of the Notre Dame Education Center. The education center provided adult ESOL English Classes, Citizenship Classes, and a Vocational Training program for adults to become.as Certified Nursing Assistants. After leaving the New England region, she was elected to the National Leadership Team for the SNDs. Her other experiences include facilitation of training sessions on “Dismantling Racism,” “Celebrating Cultural Diversity,” and creating “Culturally Sensitive Curriculums” for Catholic Schools, and religious congregations. Sr. Gwynette has been a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur for over forty years. Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors for the National Black Sisters’ Conference, the Board for the Sisters Academy of Baltimore, and the National Black Catholic Congress.