Here are some things that Jesus never said. “The kingdom of God is like an army.” or, “The reign of God is like a government.” Nope. Jesus used images of surprise – the kingdom of God is like a treasure found in a field! – and persistence. The kingdom of God is like the most annoying weed you can think of! In Jesus’ time, that was mustard. Perhaps now he would say it’s like dandelions, or even poison ivy. Just when you think it’s all gone, poof! It’s back again. The reign of God is like little seeds, scattered in a field. Or like yeast, hidden in some dough. Littleness, hiddenness, persistence.
Those are great images for us to carry at St Romero’s, as we begin our second season of Masses with our migrant community. We began at this point last year, too: June 16, 2011. We celebrated the Mass together, standing in a parking lot, all summer long. In September, two things happened at once: the community moved to a bigger house where we could worship inside, and two of our guys got taken by immigration. In the fall we worshiped, standing around a picnic table in the new house, and our community went deeper as we dealt together with the realities of undocumented people and began our ministry of accompaniment, walking with the guys who were now in the system. In November, about half of the community went to Florida, and most of the others moved to a tiny house. We stopped having Mass, but continued Religious Education. Since April, everyone has been back, but working long hours because it’s planting season. They are now scattered over two houses.
This Thursday night, June 14, we’ll start celebrating Mass together again, back at the original location. I begin this year with a lot more knowledge of the reality of their lives: the monotony, the incredibly hard work, the fear of la migra, the conditions that they live in. I give them a lot of credit for showing up week after week last year, to worship with this gringa priest who knew so little. I’m still a pretty frustrating pastor, I think: my Spanish has improved a lot, but listening comprehension is another story. Luckily, there’s usually someone around who can translate. Please pray for us as we begin anew.
This past year, you who read this bulletin have been wonderful. You have been the extended community, the yeast hidden in the dough. Your prayers and encouragement mean a great deal. You have given practical help – I think of Martin and Linda, driving everybody in to my house for our Christmas Eve Mass – or those who helped with things, like Caryl, Linda, Lynne & Marianne, Karen & Mike, Kevin, Deb and others, who gave paint, beds, shelves, a crock pot - or the folks from the Methodist Church in Churchville who made cookies last year – and all the people who have given money, that pays for the phone our guys use to report in each month, and for gas and religious ed materials. Most of all, Librada, who patiently translated conversation after conversation last year. I’m sure I haven’t listed everyone, or everything you’ve given or done, but thank you, so much.
Every Thursday morning last summer, I woke up in a panic. “What am I doing?!” I would ask myself. “I don’t speak Spanish!” And every Thursday night, I drove home, happy. We are little, we are hidden, we live and worship in precarious conditions, but all is well. All is well. Pray for us as we go forth, please.
Love and light to all
We are also sending prayers for Gustavo Monzone, a Guatemalan man living in Mexico. We met Gus in Las Vegas last October at the Catholic Worker National Gathering. He worked at the Los Angeles Catholic Worker for a time. He was also in this country without documents. A Catholic parish in Los Angeles was helping him with the process to stay here legally, when they found out that he was gay, and dropped him in a flash. Gus was deported, and has been working at a Catholic Worker House in Mexico ever since. Just recently we got the news that Gus is dealing with a brain tumor. Please pray for this beautiful man, who has so much to give the world.
We continue to worship Sunday mornings at St Joe’s at 11. It’s always a surprise, who will be there. Maybe you, one of these weeks? We’d love to see you.
And happy Father’s Day to all the Dads!
Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Community of Liberation, Justice and Joy
Worshiping in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph's House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620