Year Joined MKLM: 2021
Ministry: Asilo De Ancianos Buen Pastor (Good Shepherd Old People’s Home) and Missionaries of Charity shelter for men.
Ministry Area: Healthcare and health promotion
Goals of ministry: To accompany abandoned older people in the final years of their lives by engaging them through meaningful activities, music, exercise and heartfelt listening. To accompany the men at the shelter and instill in them again a sense of hope, through physical therapy, meaningful activities and heartfelt listening.
Reconciliation / Restoration. In both of Louise’s ministries, the older people and the men whom she serves have virtually all experienced violence in one form or another. All of them have been abandoned by their families or have families who are unable to care for them physically or financially and they are unable to care for themselves. Many come from the violence of the streets of Cochabamba and have injuries and scars that attest to the trauma they have experienced. Quite a few have the violence of addiction to overcome. Many of the men struggle with depression because of their limitations and some experience post-traumatic stress. Some of the elders also have problems with depression due to physical pain and feelings of isolation and abandonment.
The homes where Louise works have given them safe refuge, and she has the privilege of being a nonviolent presence to them as she interacts with them to provide accompaniment, assistance, activities and a listening ear. For both the men and the elders, as is typical in a group living situation, there are, at times, clashes between residents where intervention is required. Many times, the individuals who are confronting each other haven’t learned nonviolent ways to address conflict. Louise assists in working with the residents to understand the problem and demonstrates nonviolent responses to conflict. She is also there to listen empathically if they need an outlet for their aggression.
Asilo El Buen Pastor was founded in 1910, and its mission is to serve the many abandoned, destitute and disabled older people living in Cochabamba. It is currently under the management of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, and the present population is around 50 individuals. The Asilo does not receive much government funding and is considered one of the poorest in Cochabamba. However, before the pandemic, it was a vibrant place with plenty of activity and volunteers to visit with the residents.
Currently, the staff is very limited, which has resulted in the residents receiving excellent basic physical care but not much in the way of engagement in activities or focused attention. In addition, before the pandemic, there was an outstanding program sponsored by one of the universities to send physical therapy students to the Asilo as part of their training. The residents received basic physical therapy exercises and evaluations as well as occupational therapy and group activities. This program is no longer operational and now the residents do not receive this valuable assistance.
Louise’s ministry is to fill in some of these gaps by giving residents individual attention, providing puzzles and activities for them to improve cognitive functioning and engaging them in basic physical exercises to help slow the deterioration that comes with aging. She also provides a listening ear and empathetic presence.
Louise also serves two days a week in a men’s shelter operated by the Missionaries of Charity (St. Teresa of Calcutta’s congregation). In addition to patients living with AIDS, the shelter provides a home for men suffering from strokes, cancer, mental illness and trauma due to work-related injuries or traffic accidents. Currently there are 19 men living at the shelter. Along with another Maryknoll lay missioner, John O’Donoghue, Louise assists these patients with exercises in the outdoor rehab area and is receiving training to provide basic physical therapy to help them recuperate and/or maintain their current level of functioning. She also provides basic hygiene care and assists with lunch service. The most important part of Louise’s ministry is providing accompaniment and an empathetic presence to these men as they have been traumatized and many suffer from depression.
Louise most recently worked as a pastoral associate for a parish serving a large retirement community. She has also worked as a hospital and hospice chaplain and pastoral care coordinator for several nursing homes in New Orleans. She has volunteered in Florida to provide food and other assistance to those in need, spent three years offering her services to Catholic Volunteers in Florida and Good News Outreach and has been on an immersion trip to the U.S.-Mexico border. She is a member of Pax Christi.
Louise received her bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Maryland, an MBA from the Carnegie Mellon University, and master’s degrees in counseling and in pastoral studies from the Loyola Institute for Ministry in New Orleans. Her hobbies are dancing, especially Cajun and Zydeco (from her New Orleans days), reading inspirational biographies and memoirs, gardening, bird watching and working all types of puzzles.