Power of Kindness

Almost 19 years ago to the day as you’re reading this message, Sister Dorothy Stang was martyred. She said many things we have clung to since she chose to give her life for those in need.

And one of those things is this: “Never underestimate the power of small acts of kindness.”

Such small acts over time endeared Sister Dorothy to the people of the Amazon. Such small acts had as much power to change the world as did the gift of her life. I think about this especially in the season of Lent. Small acts of kindness are often not convenient. They often don’t spring forth naturally.

But if Lent, through our sacrifices, is about re-orienting ourselves to Jesus, then what better sacrifice than one that places others before self? And what more meaningful sacrifice could there be if those others are people not so easily loved?

Indeed, if love means anything, it means loving outside of our comfort zone. It means loving the ranchers and loggers who persecuted Sister Dorothy. It means loving people who don’t live as we live, or perceive the world as we perceive it. It means loving people who don’t necessarily share our values, or even our faith.

It’s hard, this kind of love. But Sister Dorothy did it. And so many of our Sisters do. Not just in big ways, but in small – such as through small acts of kindness:

A Sister who wraps and delivers a birthday present to a prison inmate who has never in his life received such a gift.

A Sister who navigates slums to sit in a shanty reading the newspaper to a man who is blind.

A Sister who for a quarter-century regularly telephoned a father whose son suffers mental illness.

These are not ministries, per say, but individual acts of kindness that bind us one to another.

And it may be, in the long run, that the accumulation of these small acts forges the strongest of bonds among people not only in terms of affection but in terms of common cause. This was certainly the case in Sister Dorothy’s work.

I hope during Lent you will remember our Sisters through your support. I realize – and all our Sisters realize – this is a sacrifice and one made on our behalf. We try our utmost to be worthy of it.

But I hope too you will look around in your daily comings and goings for the person not so easily loved, and extend a hand to that person. And there are so many, many people in need of such a gesture. There are the materially poor, certainly, but there are the socially excluded as well. There are people who because of age or disposition or circumstance or poor health or handicap . . . the list is long . . . who have dropped off the world’s measure of relevancy, but who remain children of God and our equals.

This Lent, please join me and all our Sisters as we seek to be Jesus to others even in the smallest ways. Let us go out of our way to do so, out of our routine, out of our comfort zone. The opportunities are there, if only we look.

Please pray for us as we pray for you.


Sister Kathleen Harmon,


With you, we change lives

With the support of generous friends like you, we are able to continue our mission of educating and taking a stand with those in poverty— especially women and children.

This site provides information using PDF, visit this link to download the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC software.