Note: I went to the Trinity Cafe to interview Sister Maureen Dorr, a nun Bank of America honored this week as one of five local heroes. Each local hero received $5,000 for the charity of her choice. Michael Bender, a homeless man and one of the regulars at the cafe, spoke so eloquently — and without prompting — that I chose to tell Dorr's inspiring story by blending Bender's words with her comments.
Consider this a column written by Michael Bender, with just a little help from me.
Sister Maureen Dorr doesn't just show up at the Trinity Cafe to help serve the homeless a hot lunch, she goes through the line and greets each person with a smile, a hello and a hug.
When I see her go through the line, I feel love. The quality of service she inspires and provides is awesome. The spiritual warmth and rejuvenation she gives is a regular thing. I would go to jail to represent her.
For 10 years, the Trinity Cafe has served hot lunches — one-on-one — to the homeless. The cafe is like a restaurant. They seat us and serve us.
More than that, volunteers like Sister Maureen talk to us. Sister Maureen never tires of listening to you.
What's that lady's name who worked with the poor in India? Mother Teresa? She's on a similar spiritual plane. She's a God-gifted person, even at 81.
"The mission is to listen and hear the cry of the poor," said Sister Maureen, who spent most of her years in service in education at Catholic schools from Miami to New York.
"Jesus was poor. Jesus was an immigrant. If we proclaim to walk in his footsteps, then here I am, following in his footsteps and following in St. Francis' footsteps."
I grew up in a Catholic neighborhood at the south end of Roxbury, Mass. We had Sacred Heart Church and every Thursday and Friday night, the nuns came out and fed us bologna sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Then they would read us Scriptures.
So, I relate to Sister Maureen. I call her our Catholic mother. My mom has passed away, so because of her age, I relate to her. She's my mom.
On Thursday, the only day she isn't at the Trinity Cafe, she is at the Falkenburg Road jail.
When I've been arrested for misdemeanors, I put her name down on a Monday, and she is there on Thursday.
The last time I was in jail, she gave me a bus pass to get home. She gets my family's number and calls them. She is family.
"It's an awesome responsibility, but I happily accept it," Sister Maureen said. "You know the saying, 'He's not heavy, he's my brother?' That's it.
"The responsibility is not that heavy because we are all brothers and sisters in the Lord."
She has a personal relationship with me. She's been a marriage counselor for me and my girl, Joyce. She knows I'm 57 and trying to get into either Brewster or Erwin Tech. Even in this economy, I'm trying to keep myself active.
Sister Maureen is always giving us things, amazing things. In the summer, she brings us socks and towels and soap. She even has bras for the ladies.
"It isn't just one way," Sister Maureen says. "We feed each other. We nourish one another in the Lord."
Sister Maureen knows what we're going through as we struggle to put our lives back together. She sees us for us.
"I see God," Sister Maureen says. "I get emotional when I think about how downgraded and ignored they are. If we truly believe each one of us is made in God's image, then each person I look at, rich or poor, I see God."
Sister Maureen has definitely been a light for the residents who live here and are facing hardships. She likes to say, "Nuns never retire, just recycle."