Feast of Mary Evelyn “Mev” Puleo (January 31)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri

Image in the Public Domain

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MARY EVELYN “MEV” PULEO (JANUARY 26, 1963-JANUARY 12, 1996)

U.S. Roman Catholic Photojournalist and Advocate for Social Justice

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A BRIEF LIFE CRAMMED WITH MEANING

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I believe less in theology and more in God, because there is only so much you can say about God.

–Mev Puleo; quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 94

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Mary Evelyn “Mev” Puleo used photography to call attention to poverty in Latin America.

Puleo, born on January 26, 1963, was a Roman Catholic.  She, daughter of Peter and Evelyn Puleo, benefited from First World privileges, photographed poverty in the Third World, and sought to inspire people in the First World to act.  A signal event on Mev’s spiritual-professional journey was a family trip to Brazil when she was 14 years olf; she witnesses poverty in the vicinity of the statue of Christ the Redeemer.  Later, while studying theology at St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri (Class of 1985), she worked with poor people at the Catholic Worker House in St. Louis.

Puleo became a photojournalist.  She photographed people who were struggling with dire poverty.  In one photograph, a nun provided medical care to a poor woman.  In another image. a poor boy sat in church.  Puleo published a book of such photographs from Latin America; she gave these poor people their faces and voices in The Struggle is One:  Voices and Visions of Liberation (1994).

When I was in my early teens, a thought took hold of me.  Jesus didn’t die to save us from suffering–he died to teach us how to suffer, to be with us in our every anguish and agony, to give meaning to our pain….Sometimes I actually mean it.  I’d rather die young, having lived a life crammed with meaning than to die old, even in security, but without meaning.

–Mev Puleo

Puleo, married to Mark Chmiel (author of The Book of Mev, 2005) and working on her doctorate at St. Louis University, died of a malignant brain tumor on January 12, 1996.  She was 14 days short of being 33 years old.

Puleo’s legacy lives on at St. Louis University.  Her parents and husband remain active in a scholarship program by with students spent 10 weeks in Nicaragua.

The framing question of the Parable of the Good Samaritan was, outwardly,

Who is my neighbor?

Actually, though, the question was,

Who is not my neighbor?

Jesus taught that everyone is my neighbor.

Mev Puleo understood that everyone was her neighbor.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 2, 2019 COMMON ERA

LABOR DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF F. CRAWFORD BURKITT, ANGLICAN SCHOLAR, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF DAVID CHARLES, WELSH CALVINISTIC METHODIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF NEW GUINEA, 1942 AND 1943

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM OF ROSKILDE, ENGLISH-DANISH ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servant Mary Evelyn “Mev” Puleo, to work for justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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