Lillian Garcia still remembers how her mother, Cristina, was treated that day at a health fair when they learned Cristina’s blood sugar was a little high. Alexandra Luevano, now clinic director of the Mother of Mercy Clinics in Manassas and Woodbridge, showed Cristina kindness and concern. “She really looked after my mom, she was genuinely worried about her,” said Garcia. It’s one of the reasons Garcia, whose mother has since died, now volunteers at Mother of Mercy. “It’s kind of like giving back in my mom’s name,” she said.
Garcia, a surgical technologist and a parishioner of Our Lady of Angels Church in Woodbridge, was volunteering at the Manassas clinic when the Woodbridge location began telemedicine appointments in April. After 27 years, the Prince William Area Free Clinic closed its doors due to financial difficulties, and asked Catholic Charities to step in. As Mother of Mercy offered telemedicine, volunteers, including Garcia and her husband Otoniel, began to remodel the space.
They put in new floors, added baseboards, painted walls and created a chapel. José Amaya, a parishioner of Holy Family Church in Dale City, made the altar. Friends who own a cleaning company brought their supplies and got to work. “It was really nice because while we were cleaning, we were praying and thinking about all the people who were coming here and going to benefit from it,” said Garcia.
While continuing to offer telemedicine, the Mother of Mercy Free Medical Clinic in Woodbridge opened its doors to patients for prenatal and primary care Nov. 23. It will start offering specialty services in December, said Luevano.
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge visited the clinic Nov. 21 to bless the facility and celebrate Mass in the chapel. Those present included clinic supporters Art Bennett, president and CEO of diocesan Catholic Charities; Aime Nuar, medical director of both clinics; and Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary Father Alvaro Montero, pastor of Our Lady of Angels.
“Here in this clinic, the light of Christ shines brightly as free, quality health care is given to our brothers and sisters in most need,” Bishop Burbidge said. “We clearly understand the mission here reflected in one of the prayers we will say in this ceremony: Lord, may this place be a center of love where the art of healing is practiced wisely, where the sick are served with care and where the faithful enter to meet Christ in their brothers and sisters.”
Before Bishop Burbidge walked through the clinic to bless its eight exam rooms and other spaces, Bennett spoke about the quality of care patients receive at Mother of Mercy clinics. That volunteers at the clinics tend to the whole person is one of Garcia’s favorite things about the experience, she said. “(I love) that I have a chance to help them not just physically, but spiritually — because we show God,” she said. “It’s about him.”
Find out more:
To volunteer, call 703/335-2779 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION OF THE ARLINGTON CATHOLIC HERALD