Sister Jacinta Powers: Finding her joy in serving the poor

“Jacinta is a true ‘five’ on the Enneagram – curious, intense, persistent, a thinker, full of questions and a life-long learner,” Sister Martha said.

“I try to be careful about what I put in my soul,” Sister Jacinta said. “I don’t watch TV other than the news at night. All my appliances are unplugged until I need them. (Sister) Monica says it’s like coming to visit the Amish.”

Sister Jacinta and Joe Samuels, who is spending a year working at the Church Health Center, go over patients’ charts in their computers.

She listens to the radio when she travels, and has all her preset channel buttons programmed to K Love between Memphis and Maple Mount, a station that plays Christian, encouraging music. “Songs are powerful instruments to change a person’s ways,” she said.

Sister Jacinta’s wry sense of humor inevitably gets mentioned by all the people who know her well. Sister Monica shared this story:

“Two of her neighbor kids, about 4 and 5 years old, asked me if Jacinta was my grandma. Of course I told them ‘yes’ and when Jacinta came on the scene the girl said, ‘There’s your grandma!’ I thought for sure I was dead but Jacinta played along and said, ‘Oh, you met my granddaughter.’ The joy that Jacinta possesses flows from her awareness of being a beloved child of God.”

To Sister Claudia, it is Sister Jacinta’s generosity that most stands out. “I think she would give to the last drop,” Sister Claudia said. In 1994, Sister Claudia began a family ministry in which she eventually became responsible for raising her niece and two nephews. “When I had to be at the hospital at 5:30 a.m., she’d come to my home at 4:40 to help with the kids,” Sister Claudia said. “How many people would do that?”

Sister Jacinta believes she’ll be in Memphis for awhile, until the Spirit calls her elsewhere. “It seems the right fit for what I’m called to do,” she said. “The changes being implemented in health care will take a long time. There will still be millions who don’t qualify,” she said. “The Church Health Center will always be needed, because the kingdom hasn’t come yet.”

By Dan Heckel