Nun Helps Fight AIDS, Oppression in DuPage

Article excerpt

In a population widely classified as "low-risk" to contracting AIDS, it might be easy for people in the suburbs to turn away from news or information about the disease.

But an appearance this week by the founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt challenged DuPage County residents to look for ways the deadly disease has affected their lives.

The Daily Herald invited two DuPage County residents to share their reasons for their involvement in AIDS-related causes.

Sister Alice Drewek, the AIDS ministry coordinator with Wheaton Franciscan Sisters, is one of the key people behind the construction of Canticle Place, DuPage County's first affordable housing development for people living with AIDS.

Patricia Brash is one of the people spearheading the DuPage chapter of the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, a fund-raising group to help children with the disease.

Sister Alice Drewek, OSF

AIDS Ministry Coordinator

Wheaton Franciscan Sisters

In the book of Revelations, John talks about people "who have come out of the great ordeal." Throughout the history of humankind, we have read about such people - from the Israelites who suffered oppression from their many captors, to the Jews who were victims of the Holocaust.

Unfortunately, this kind of oppression and discrimination continues in this day and age - the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, for example.

And sometimes it occurs a little more subtly.

With people infected with HIV and AIDS, it occurs when they are denied equal access to housing or employment or health care, to name but a few areas.

The yoke that they bear is that of the fear, animosity and hatred of people who judged them as sinners, shun them, condemn them.

We look to the Scriptures and ask ourselves: What would God do? How would God respond to people who are infected with this disease?

Like a lot of situations in the Scriptures, we know that God sees differently than we do. God sees beyond outward appearances into the hearts of people.

And his response is one of compassion and caring. He gives shelter, food and drink. He consoles by tenderly wiping away every tear from their eyes.

How wonderful it would be to see as God sees, so that we could respond in a manner that reflects his attitude. How can we do that?

St. Matthew tells us that God reveals things to the merest children. Children, those little people who start off life so eager to learn, so trusting, so enthusiastic and energized as they live life moment by moment.

Can we, as adults, foster some of those same qualities that would allow us to be open to new or perhaps different points of view or ideas or lifestyles of the people we read about ... or meet ... or work with ... or even live with?

Can we, as adults, allow ourselves to trust that what we see - that which appears to be - may be only part of the truth, part of the story, and thus, continue to seek for more? …