Acts of care and compassion take flight 

Ketchikan | June 18, 2019
Mom with young baby on an airplane
A Sister of St. Joseph of Peace proves that simple gestures of love and kindness can have great impacts.
                                       “There’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. 
                                         Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” 
                                                           – Scott Adams
 
Most parents know — or have learned the hard way — that leaving the house to go anywhere with a baby in tow requires meticulous preparation and packing. 
 
There’s a laundry list of essential items that must be packed and ready to grab at a moment’s notice. From diapers, changing pads, wipes, bottles and food, to blankets, toys and a change of clothes (or two or three), the list goes on and on.
 
And that’s just for a simple trip to the grocery store. Try stuffing all of that baby gear into a carry-on bag bursting at the seams and then schlepping it back and forth as you travel with your baby by plane from Ketchikan, Alaska, to Seattle and, finally, to Los Angeles.

 

An immediate connection

When Sr. Marilee Murphy arrived at the Ketchikan International Airport, she stumbled upon a mom and her 6-month-old in this very situation. Sr. Marilee has been part of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace community for 59 years and has served in a variety of support roles in the United States and abroad. 
 
Striking up a conversation with the mom, Sr. Marilee learned that the young woman was originally from the Philippines but had moved to rural Alaska with her husband right before the birth of their baby. Her husband was unable to make this trip to L.A., so she was traveling alone with her daughter to attend her sister’s birthday celebration.
 
Sr. Marilee felt an immediate connection.
 
During the late 1960s, she had lived in the Philippines when the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace had partnered with the operator of a cannery that employed 9,000 people. The Sisters oversaw the hospital and schools on the plantation. Sr. Marilee Murphy sits next to a statue of Benjamin Franklin

 

Celebrating birthdays is part of the culture

“I was in the Philippines for three years; I understand how important family is to the Philippine people,” Sr. Marilee said. “They would think nothing of making the long trip for a relative’s birthday, to be there to celebrate with them. It’s part of their culture.”
 
As she got to know the mom that day, Sr. Marilee could see she was overwhelmed and exhausted. 
 
“I just couldn’t imagine what it was like for her to be on this trip alone with her little girl,” Sr. Marilee said. “When it was time to board the plane, I decided that I would offer to help her.”
 
And help she did. Sr. Marilee assisted the young mother and daughter as they navigated the onboarding process as well as lending a hand during the flight. 
 
“I carried the little one up and down the aisle,” Sr. Marilee said. “Every single person smiled at her. She was just the most darling little girl.”

 

Staying until the final flight

The act of kindness went even further. Sr. Marilee’s flight from Seattle to Vancouver was delayed, so she offered to stay with the mom and baby while they waited for their final flight to L.A.
 
“I held the baby, kept her entertained and we all did some walking together,” she said. 
 
Mission Services Consultant Sherri Brewer was there when this connection developed. 
 
“It was incredible to see this beautiful interaction between strangers,” Sherri said. “Our Mission Services team was lucky to witness this gesture of compassion and caring.”
 
Sr. Marilee was grateful to be there to step forward and offer this young mother a bit of respite and support.
 
“At PeaceHealth we talk about how we live our Mission and Values through our healthcare ministry,” she said. “This is the exact same thing: You look at somebody and recognize there is something you can do to help, so you do it.”