“La migra are not our enemies. They are just doing their job.”
That was the response of a twenty-five year old farm worker when I suggested to him that we should be praying for immigration authorities, because Jesus told us to love our enemies.
Sometimes people ask me how I keep going when surrounded by so much injustice. Moments like that one, seeing the generosity and forgiveness in the heart of that young man, are points of light in my week.
Here’s another one:
Last Thursday we met early for Mass because the guys had requested a blessing of the cars before they went to Florida. We were supposed to start at 4:00, but it was actually 5:30 before we got going, partly because we were waiting for people, but also because we had to wait while a young man (under his father’s orders) washed his car. Finally we were ready. They opened all the doors and the hoods of the cars. I had the bucket and sprinkler that we use on Easter and went around and blessed all those cars, praying for safety on the road: safety from la migra, from accidents, from hitting any animals. Then I handed the bucket and sprinkler to one of the men, and each of them blessed the cars as well. Then we blessed each other! It was a joyful time. As I was walking around the cars with the doors open, I could see that with the six people they were planning to take in each car there would be no room for cargo. I asked where they would put their things, and they explained that they could not take anything except a change of clothes. I thought of Jesus sending the disciples out with orders not to carry anything along. I’m happy to tell you that they called this week to say that everyone arrived safely. Gracias, Dios, y bendices nuestros hermanos. Thank you Lord, and please bless our brothers and keep them safe!
Another lovely thing this week was going with our young mother-to-be for an ultra sound. It’s a boy! We watched him sucking his thumb and waving his little hand in a way that seemed to say, “Hola, Mama!” Her husband and two of the other men who are staying here found some work picking cabbage for a few days, so he was not along. As I write this on Friday, they are going from farm to farm, looking for work.
Thank you for your prayers and offers of support this week. Donations have come in that will enable us to help folks with their security deposit and first month’s rent when they find new places to live. It is still too early to know who will need help and how much help will be needed. But it feels good to know that we will be able to offer that help, thanks to a number of you. Please pray. It is a scary time.
Last Sunday evening when I brought Santiago back to the little house, there were visitors. A young couple with a baby – for whom I brought holy water when he was a newborn last spring - were there. They asked how I was, and I said, “sad, and worried for you all.” So we talked about the situation, and passed the baby around, and they told me that they are going back to Mexico. We are all sad to see them go.
This is actually the intention of the government. When we went in to report in Buffalo last week, the man said to me, “You have to understand the government’s point of view. They are hoping that these people will just go home. You, of course, are coming from a point of view of compassion, and caring about these people...” Every time I tell that story, I start to laugh. Sir, do you hear what you are saying?
As our President begins a second term of office, I pray that the hearts of all those in power will turn to “compassion and caring about these people.” Our folks need amnesty and a path to citizenship. They need just labor laws that give them the basic rights that you and I take for granted. They need decent housing, health care, education and a chance to rest.
The situation I wrote about last week, of 92 people being put out of work and their homes, moves us to compassion. What these brother and sisters need most from us right now is that everybody reading this would sit down and write to the president, senators, congress people, state officials, anybody that you can think of with the power to change things, and tell this story and demand justice and life-giving change.
Last week the guys and I were in the post office in Batavia. I bought a package of stamps that had pictures of flags and the words, Freedom, Liberty, Equality and Justice. May we, the citizens of this country, demand that justice, equality and liberty be extended to these brave, resourceful, stalwart, hard-working people.
May it be so.
Love to all,
P.S. Next weekend, Sunday November 18th , I will be on retreat with the womenpriests of the eastern region of RCWP, and we will again not have Mass. Hope to see you on the 25th.
Remember “Pink Smoke over the Vatican” on November 27th. Tickets available at the Spiritus Office,325-1180. $10 in advance, $12 at the door.
Rural and Migrant Ministries Dinner, Tuesday Dec 4 at Temple B’rith Kodesh. $50 a plate. Still need volunteers. President Marvin McMickle of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School will be speaking.
One last thing: St. Joe’s is very much in need of shelter volunteers. If you would be willing to give a couple nights a month to this ministry, please call St. Joe’s, 232-3262 and leave a message for Vanessa.
Thanks for all your prayers and support. They give us hope and courage.
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