The sign states: “No Trespassing, Private Property”. What a strange sign when there is a church in this land? How can I attend the church as a stranger in this property when it is situated in the middle of an Indian Reserve?
Took all my courage to trespass in a deserted street and I was cautious of my surrounding. I felt that there were eyes looking at me as I walked along the street and to my relief I saw a gray nun heading toward the church.
I felt much better when I was inside the church. The congregation was mostly Native Indians and elders. Much to my surprise, they were very hospitable to me. I felt at home. Soon, I became a regular every Sunday Mass at St Paul’s Church of North Vancouver for a short period.
Here I met Starr. She is kind to me and a little bit on a serious side. I told her that I was just passing through on my way to Thailand to do volunteer work. Starr confided that one day she would like to do an altruistic work. I said by the grace of God, it will happen, just keep praying about it. That was year 1998.
Before I left the church, there was an activity of hanging a star on a Charlie Brown Tree. Anyone can take part to hang a star and share what it means to her or him. Then Starr came to me and lead me to where the tree was. She pick up a star and hanged it.
She introduced me to the congregation that the star represents me as her “hero” because of what I embarked to do in Thailand. I was a surprised by her kindness.
When I came back home to Canada, Starr has obtained a home. Her plan is to help out destitute troubled women. The house will be a recovery home for addicted women. I helped her a bit on some legal papers. I provided her with boxes of books from my own collections of religious books for her house. As a present, I gave her a meditation book “God in All Things by Anthony de Mello”.
Then life got in a way.
I’ve lost in touched with Starr until one night in 2010,I was watching the evening news. The news was the Courage to Come Back Award presented by Coast Mental Health. They called a name that is so familiar to me, Starr Peardon, a recipient of the award.
Oh my goodness, I have to watch this, dropped everything and glued watching the television.
There is so little I know of Starr. As far as I’m concerned she’s a beautiful person and I never once asked her what her background is. Then I learnt her story from the news.
Starr was a drug addict, drug dealer and a criminal. She was in and out of jail and gave up her children to foster care. However, it was in the correctional facility where she had her conversion.
In an article written in The Province Newspaper, I quote:
It was while doing time at the old Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women that the jail’s chaplain, Hank Smidstra, prayed over her while she detox.
“This strange thing happened. It was like a warmth. Like God put his arms around me. I didn’t believe in God,” said Peardon. She woke up the next day and knelt on the concrete floor
“I prayed to a God I didn’t believe in. I swore and I cried and that same peace descended on me. That was my conversion experience,”
With her conversion experience, Starr was able to fulfill her dream. “Talitha Koum”, meaning “little girl, rise” is the house for “broken women”, a place of healing. Countless women have turned around their life with her help. It is going strong until now.
On March 31, 2012, we celebrated Starr’s retirement party. And she has all the reason to smile for being an instrument of God. And I have all the reason to smile outward and inward when I think of her.
God bless you, Starr Pedron. She found her truth. She reconciled.
Today, we are celebrating the vast Truth and Reconciliation with the Indian Affairs that happened in Canada.