Catching Up with the Mission – Sister Sheila Anne Smith 

The Covid pandemic caused many Sisters to change their ministry routines. For Sister Sheila Anne Smith, her behind-the-scenes ministry of crocheting “filter socks” for Water With Blessings has been able to continue mostly uninterrupted.

Water With Blessings is led by Ursuline Sister Larraine Lauter in Louisville. It is a ministry that provides water filters and training for “Water Women” in impoverished countries so they can provide clean water for their families and others in their communities.

Because the filters have so far to travel, it was discovered that they sometimes became damaged in transit. Sister Larraine suggested crocheting covers for the filters to protect them and called on her Ursuline Sisters to help. While many Sisters responded, Sister Sheila Anne has made it her full-time ministry at Maple Mount, along with Sister Rose Karen Johnson.

“Sister Rose Karen and I usually meet to crochet together. She had never crocheted a stitch in her life – and now she’s quite accomplished at it,” Sister Sheila Anne said. “Of course, we’re wearing our face masks and sitting at social distance.”

The water filters had mostly gone to other countries until April 2020. In October 2020, Sister Larraine shared the work Water With Blessings was doing with the Navajo nation in the Southwestern United States since the Covid pandemic began. There are 57,000 Navajo households, but 30-40 percent of those have no running water. Some that do have water find it contaminated by uranium or biology, Sister Larraine told the Sisters.

The plight of the Navajos spoke especially to Sister Shelia Anne, who grew up in Farmington, N.M.

“I had the experience of knowing of times when, even in town, we had to limit our use of water,” she said. “When water use was high, we could barely get a few drops – or at most, a patiently filled pitcher or water jar from the faucet. The best tactic, as I recall, was to fill several jars and put them in the refrigerator – then go easy on using them.”

Sister Sheila Anne is happy that her contributions at the Mount can help people in need of clean water thousands of miles away – and maybe even people she went to school with long ago.

“The distances between trading posts (which sell a combination of groceries, gas and bottled water) are not close together,” she said. “With all this during the pandemic, the distance could really be an added difficulty, especially if the condition of the many unpaved roads hinders the grocery and gas products from getting to the trading posts on the reservation.”

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