Noella Poinsette, Justice and Peace Coordinator, helped the students of Oldenburg Academy (located next to the Sisters’ Motherhouse in Oldenburg) experience what it’s like to be rejected when seeking shelter as Mary and Joseph when they were looking for lodging as in the Christmas story with which we are all familiar. The four freshman religion classes of Miss Emma Lindle did a Las Posadason January 14th. Las Posadas is a Mexican custom in which people go to a house on the seven nights preceding Christmas looking for room in the inn; on the first six nights they are turned away. A song is sung with the pilgrims and the innkeepers alternating on verses with the story of rejection at the inns. The students sang this traditional Las Posadas song at various rooms in the Motherhouse proper where they knocked on doors “seeking shelter”. It was obvious that the Sisters were uncomfortable playing their role of rejecting the students and sending them off. On the seventh day they are welcomed in; this happened in Sr. Noella’s office where there was a celebration of gratitude with chips and salsa. The students condensed this seven day experience into one class session.
During the following day’s class Miss Lindle led the students in reflecting on their experience as Mary and Joseph in their quest for shelter and their experience of rejection. It is hoped that this exercise of the Christmas story sheds some light on modern day experiences of what it feels like to be rejected as an immigrant or in any circumstance. It is an experience of bringing the gospel to life in our present day reality; in trying to better understand how the gospel speaks to us today Sr. Noella then spoke of refugees throughout the world. She shared stories and photos of those she has had the blessing of knowing – people like Teodora (God bearer) who was 8 months pregnant as she walked from El Salvador with her friend Santos Santos (holy holy) to give birth to her child in a land where she would not need to fear for that child’s life.