A ‘Heart to Heart’ With Survivors

Tags: Currents, Faith, Prayer, Queens, NY, Religious Life, Sex Abuse Survivor

By Tim Harfmann

Sister Ave Clark is all about spreading love and healing through prayer.

“I guess you might call it a gift, a blessing, and an unassuming journey,” said Sister Ave.

That’s why she founded the Heart to Heart Ministry 25 years ago.

Based out of her Bayside, Queens residence, the Dominican Sister of Amityville leads prayer groups from her local parish. But a big part of her ministry is meeting one-on-one with victims of sex abuse. Sister Ave says she understands their pain because she, too, is a survivor.

“At the end, we hug each other like we’ve known each other all our life. Because you cared. You stayed with the pain they had, but you offered them joy and hope,” said Sister Ave.

But she said although the abuse victims have turned away from the Church, they want to find Christ.

“I think they’re disappointed. And a lot of people just have this belief in hope that transparency, opening our heart as a Church community, and saying things did go wrong. But there is a better way,” said Sister Ave.

No matter what worshipers need healing from, Sister Ave helps about forty people per week. She even receives phone calls from across the country.

She remembered one conversation with a truck driver.

“He said, ‘hey sister, everybody wants to say hello.’ I heard all these men yelling, ‘Hey! Hi! How are you?’ and he said, ‘those are all the people that go across the United States with me. I’m yelling there’s a nun praying for us!”

Members of her church’s prayer group say Sister Ave has changed their lives.

“She taught me a lot about my religion; and she has such compassion. I find her to be a very special individual,” said Frank Orlando.

“I would be with her every day because I just sense that she’s like Jesus on earth,” said Susan Schwemmer.

For her work in the Church, Sister Ave will receive the highest honor from her religious order at a special event on Friday, November 2nd.

“I feel like it’s not just about me. It’s about all the people I have met — the heart to heart connection that you have with faith, and with hope, and with charity,” said Sister Ave.

She also leads retreats ranging from schools to rosary societies to Catholics who are receiving one of their sacraments. People can call 718-428-2471. You can also reach sister through her website at www.anextratablespoonoflove.blogspot.com.