Do you like baby showers? Well, you would have loved the one we had recently at St. George’s Church in Bridgeport. It was a beautiful sign of a community’s generosity and the unity of the Church. A small but active group of ladies from Puerto Rico and Guatemala, led by Mercedes, one of very active parishioners, along with numerous Mexican and some Ecuadorean families, came together to host a baby shower for a young Nigerian couple whom they barely knew.
Paschal Emejeamara is a graduate student studying Computer Sciences at the University of Bridgeport. He brought his wife, Marie, to Bridgeport last year. She is a lovely young woman who was active in the Legion of Mary in their native Nigeria. Marie is expecting their first child in April.
Both Paschal and Marie encountered difficulties in Bridgeport right away. Unfortunately the University simply does not have enough jobs available on campus for its students. Though he has tried diligently to find work elsewhere, Paschal still is without a job. Marie, for her part, found the cold New England weather far different from her homeland and hoped they would move to Texas, where she has relatives. Paschal, however, had the conviction that God wanted them to stay in Bridgeport. He also thought they should attend St. George, though the English speaking community is quite small.
Paschal met Fr. Elio Sosa, IVE and the SSVM sisters through their work at the University of Bridgeport and he has attended retreats and Bible studies with them. When the Sisters learned of Paschal’s difficult situation, they began trying to find him a job through contacts in the parish. Then Mercedes, a fellow parishioner, had the idea for a baby shower to help them. What a delightful event it was!
We were able to surprise Marie, who had been sleeping and didn’t want to go out in the cold. The group threw confetti at her when she arrived and one 7-year old girl who knew the English tune sang, “She’s a Jolly Good Mommy” along with one of the sisters. There were decorations of pink and white, a pink throne and tiara crown for Marie, a table full of gifts, another one full of food and also baby rattle balloon decorations—made by one of the altar boys!
Several families came and many who weren’t able to stay still came to bring trays of food and drinks, along with presents. A handful of Paschal’s Nigerian friends came and took videos as Paschal and Marie opened gifts. Paschal said to one of the sisters, “I am dumbfounded” to express his great surprise at this outpouring of charity from people he doesn’t really know. Marie just kept saying over and over, “Thank you, Sister.”
Paschal had a huge smile as he held up the gifts, which included lots of valuable boxes of diapers, clothes, baby bathtubs and several cards with numerous dollar bills taped inside, each of which Paschal flashed to the crowd. (In all, the parish and the University students together gave them over $600.00.) At the end, both Paschal and Marie gave lovely thank you speeches, mentioning what a blessing it was to meet Fr. Elio and the Sisters. Marie summarized it best when she expressed her deep gratitude saying that, in spite of language differences, “We are One Church!” They finished by saying together in very good Spanish: “Thank you for the gifts!”
A few days later Paschal left thank you cards for Fr. Elio, the Sisters and the whole parish in the Sisters’ convent chapel near the University. A day or two after the shower one of the sisters found a tiny teddy bear baby slipper in the church parking lot and realized it must have been dropped when the gifts from the shower were loaded. Happily the little slipper was cleaned up and returned to Paschal and Marie for their little Cinderella…she’s coming soon! Please pray for them all!