Back in 2008 or 9, Spiritus Christi sponsored an evening on Immigration Reform. Marilu Aguilar organized it, and brought in some great speakers, including Wally Ruehle. Among the speakers that night was a young woman named Librada Paz. I remember her talk better than any of the others (sorry, Wally!) because she spoke from her own experience, having come here undocumented as a teenager from Mexico. I particularly remember her story of needing to go to the hospital and being afraid to go because of the risk of getting turned in to immigration.
Our paths crossed again in October, 2010, when she and I were both part of a group from the Presbytery of Genesee Valley and Rural and Migrant Ministries that toured some fields and met some farmworkers. It was that night that the dream of coming back to offer Mass in Spanish was born. If Librada hadn’t given me her email address and said to contact her in the Spring, our little Migrant church would not have happened. The following June, she and I spent an evening driving around Elba and Clarendon, meeting people and asking if they would like a Mass, until finally we were invited to come and celebrate at the location where we now meet weekly.
My Spanish was good enough to preach and celebrate the Mass, at that point. I depended on Librada for all other communication. She still helps with translation, now, when I get stuck. (which still happens a lot!)
In September when two of our guys were taken by la migra, she and I worked together to find where they were, and together visited Santiago when he was in detention. She was the person I called for directions when I went to get them out, because I didn’t know my way around Batavia, and she came to Mass to celebrate their return that week. She even videotaped the guys talking about their experience, to document it for Rural and Migrant Ministries. She has been tireless in walking with us, even through her pregnancy, and now she has brought her beautiful baby son, Axel, to our Thursday Mass.
Iglesia de San Romero would not exist without Librada’s help, all along the way.
So, it is with great joy that I tell you that Librada Paz has been named the recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation’s Award for Human Rights, this year, for her work with farm workers.
Congratulations, Librada. What a wonderful, wonderful thing! Gracias por todos tu trabajar por nuestra hermanos y hermanos quien trabajan tan duro en los campos. Dios te bendiga, siempre! Thank you for all your work for our brothers and sisters who work so hard in the fields. God bless you, always!
Love and light to all
Here’s a link to an article in the New York Daily News:
...and a photo of Librada and baby Axel is attached
Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Community of Liberation, Justice and Joy
Worshiping in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11
St Joseph's House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620