A Mother's Advice Made All the Difference

Sister Nancy Wellmeier, SNDdeN at Su Casa Hispanic Center

Nancy Wellmeier’s eyes light up when she recounts how her mother loved to provide mind-expanding opportunities to encourage Nancy and her siblings to be curious and explore while they were growing up in Dayton, Ohio. As Nancy entered Julienne High School, her mother advised her to study a “living language” rather than Latin, which she referred to as a “dead one.” Little did Nancy know the profound impact this decision would have on her life. She and her classmates did very well in Spanish and loved their teacher, who encouraged them to pursue a fourth year of study. However, Nancy and her friends had to convince the principal to include a fourth-year course in the curriculum. A Spanish major in college, she “fell in love with the culture” and wanted to experience it. As a high school teacher of modern languages, she was able to spend summers volunteering in Mexico.

In July, Nancy spent two weeks in Phoenix at the Welcome Center with Meg Walsh and Liane Delsuc SND East-West. Up to 200 immigrants, including adults with children, now arrive daily, marking a significant increase from October 2022 when Nancy previously volunteered at the center. More individuals are coming from Ecuador as well as from Mauritania and Senegal in West Africa, seeking refuge from slavery and religious persecution. Fluent in Spanish and French, Nancy loves welcoming the guests, explaining the services provided, directing them to meals, showers, and the clothing room, checking on their travel arrangements, and answering questions.

On September 6, Nancy began volunteering two days a week at Su Casa, the Catholic Charities social services center for Spanish-speaking and other immigrants in Cincinnati. After quick training, she serves at the reception window in the waiting room. Nancy says, “I enjoy meeting the clients, especially if I can greet and converse a bit in their language, Spanish, French, Swahili, Q’anjob’al Maya, or sign language. Often, due to my international experience, I have been to their country. This past week, a couple with a small child came in. They had arrived in the city that very day from the overcrowded refugee situation in New York with nowhere to stay, no food and no clear path forward. As staff made calls to all the shelters in the city without success, a couple who were there for notary services offered to take this Venezuelan family to their home. I felt I was witnessing a miracle. God is good!”

What a blessing to be multi-lingual and able to help people learn what they need to survive!

Written by Sister Rita Sturwold, SNDdeN