How To Put your Faith to Work

What strengthens a social worker?

Olga AngladaOlga Anglada keeps things simple, even amid some of life's most horrible situations. As a social worker in the Chicago Public Schools she encounters high school students who are homeless, abused, and addicted. It is her responsibility to reach out to them.

"I just listen," she says. "I tell them, 'I don't have an agenda except what will help you.' I am a professional social worker, but my first responsibility is to be a Christian. I talk to them about values and try to teach them some skills that will help them the rest of their lives. I see in each one a child of God, and I work hard to establish a positive relationship because they have experienced so much rejection."

"Just yesterday I heard one of the school personnel being rude and sarcastic with a student. Later in the day I got a call; the student was refusing to talk to anyone. I told the student, 'I want to apologize for the way some adults treat you.' That's all it took. She opened up. It turns out that her mother is a drug addict, they are homeless, and she has been abused. I was able to get her some help."

Anglada starts every morning with prayer and scripture readings. She tries to maintain that prayerful attitude all day. "When I'm walking from the office to a classroom," she says, "I pray for wisdom and an open heart and the right words to say." Like her role model, St. Teresa of vila, Anglada strives to be spiritual even as she is practical. Her fulfillment comes from being faithful to the God she meets every morning in scripture.

People like Anglada, who successfully balance contemplation and prayer with action and continuing commitment, do not rise and fall according to the praise they receive. They expect that they will meet cynicism and sadness, despair and anger. When they do, they simply respond as best they can. They embody St. Francis' prayer: "Where there is hatred let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith."

—Excerpted from U.S. Catholic magazine

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