Showing posts from April, 2013

Mission: More than a Transaction

Pick a project, write a check.  For many of us in US parishes, this sums up our relationship with the poor beyond our borders.

Over the past year, I have been serving as a mission adviser for a budding twinning relationship between a parish in the Archdiocese of Seattle and a parish in Haiti.  Sister parish relationships can be beautiful, strong relationships that affirm the dignity of all partners, but they can also quickly fall into the above trap.

Let's look a common scenario: a parish in the US enters into a twinning relationship and asks the other pastor right away, "What do you need?"  The pastor of the parish in the developing country expresses a need to provide year-round salary for his teachers.  He explains that not being able to pay them during the three months of summer means that many (understandably) move on to other jobs/schools (he can barely pay them during the school year, as it is).  The parish in the US immediately gets some figures together, makes …

Please Don't Blame My Friends For Boston

As the tragedy unfolded in Boston, many prayers welled up in me but one kept surfacing. I hoped and prayed that the terrorists would not be Muslim.   I'm not sure that would have been my prayer a year ago or even entered my consciousness as a concern. But as the news broke that the suspects were Muslim, my heart sank and I became worried for my Muslim friends in San Jose and others around the country that they would be become the targets by association of people's rage and distrust. Why would that be my concern now when it wasn't much of a concern before?

The simple answer is that now I have friends who are Muslims. It is amazing how things change when people who are known to you only as a category become friends and you learn that there is far more that you share in common than that which separates you. For me this happened over the course of the last year when I participated in two retreats that included a small groups of Christians and Muslims who came to spend …

Accompanying an Immersion Group to Haiti

Published originally in Not So Far AfieldVolume 22 Number 1
In the days leading up to a trip to Haiti, I felt like I really should not be going.  With a busy life at work and home, and with my wife being pregnant, it just seemed like a crazy a thing to be doing.  But I went anyway…
Getting off of the plane in Port-au-Prince and working my way through customs and baggage claim was an overwhelming experience. I quickly instructed others in my group to simply say “No, m├ęsi,” (“No, thank you) to men offering to “help” with our bags, and they followed my lead. In the days leading up to this visit to Haiti, I felt like I really should not be going. Soon, we were in a van riding through the streets of Port-au-Prince, which swelled with the over three million Haitians that populate the city. As the sights and sounds of the city enveloped us – people buying and selling goods, intense tr…