In 1975 Paula D’Arcy’s husband and daughter were killed in a drunken driving accident. She was twenty-seven years old and three months pregnant, yet survived unharmed. Six months later she gave birth to her second daughter and began the long process of healing. Since that time she has authored nine books, worked as a therapist in private practice, and established a retreat and speaking ministry. *
In her words:
When the terrible darkness of grief lifted, I emerged deeply sensitized to all suffering. My life had been directly and forever altered by a force of great Love that moved even in the midst of considerable heartache and pain. Now I wanted to give back to the world in some way. I wanted others in need to know the power and reach of that Love.
In creating a non-profit I was aware of the many organizations that beautifully and effectively tend society’s visible needs. But I dreamed of creating a foundation that would tend the invisible needs of the human heart. Red Bird Foundation was incorporated in 2001.
Since its founding, Red Bird Foundation has dedicated itself to serving the very movement of Love that changed my own destiny. Our guiding focus is embedded in an intention to assist others in the transformation of pain and the restoration of hope.
My ongoing personal vocations as a speaker and retreat director have been an unintended compliment to the work of Red Bird Foundation. The widespread travel demanded by this career path offers rich resources for the Foundation’s efforts. From the beginning, we have often been moved to help others when their needs were brought to our awareness because of the natural intersection of those lives and stories and my own work. As a result, Red Bird Foundation’s uniqueness is that rather than our searching for particular avenues and places where we might offer assistance, we let them find us. Because of this, our outreach is particularly diverse and always evolving. Yet our defining, unchanging dedication remains the same: To assist the movement of Love in this world and at this time. This is our “why.” The “what” and the “how” follow.
The words of Alfred Delp, imprisoned and hung by the Nazis, are a perfect expression of our mission. While in the concentration camps he smuggled out scraps of paper in the laundry with these words: Light the candles, wherever you can, you who have them.
The question at the heart of Red Bird Foundation is: Who is life bringing to our door today and are we able to help? We use many means: Retreats, conferences (large and small), one on one conversations, monetary support for counseling and education, scholarships, financial resources, and programs for those in great need or in disadvantaged situations. Our work has grown to the international level, yet its hallmark remains the fact that we weigh evenly the meaning and effect of a large conference held in a convention center, or a small circle meeting in a half-way house or jail. We light the candles wherever and however we can. A single human heart is of the highest value. The true work we support is Love. As we are able, we hold open a door.
Paula also presently serves as adjunct faculty at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX, Seton Cove in Austin, TX, the summer Institute of Adult Spiritual Renewal held at Loyola University, Chicago, IL and The Living School, sponsored by Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, NM.
Please go to Year's End 2011, to read Paula's thoughts about the end of 2011.