Showing posts from August, 2013

Prophets in Our Own Homes: Bringing Back the Immersion Experience

My father passed away unexpectedly about four months after returning from a trip to Malawi and Kenya.  After his death, I read the journal that he kept there, from cover to cover, hoping to gain greater insight into who he was and what he had to share.  It was clear that he undergone a profound spiritual transformation.  He wrote with great zeal about what he experienced and how he hoped to bring that into his ministry as an educator.  On the last page, however, he noted a certain level of disappointment upon his return.  Many of his love ones did not seem genuinely interested in his experiences.  He had photos and stories to tell, and had hoped to find an outlet in those closest to him.

Reading this after his death naturally caused a lot of personal soul-searching.  I have had to wrestle with questions about how I present I really was to his experience.  In recent years I have also reflected on it from the perspective of someone returning from his own immersion experiences.  There i…

The Art of Catholic Social Teaching

(ART is taken in part from In the Footsteps of Jesus, Resource Manual on Catholic Social Teaching, [United States Conference of Catholic Bishops] 71).
ART is an acronym that stands for Act, Reflect, and Transform.  The process of ART moves people of faith from concern for charity to action for justice.  Let’s use ART to look at a familiar allegory.
Suppose you live in a small village next to a river.  This river provides water for drinking, daily cooking, washing clothes and bathing.  One morning you’re down at the river filling a bucket of water and you notice what looks like a woman floating face-down in the water.  You wade out and grab the edge of her skirt and pull her towards the shore.  You roll her over and attempt to resuscitate her but realize that she is already dead.   With the help of other villagers you give her a decent burial and shocked and saddened, you figure she just drowned accidentally.  That evening, while you and some neighbors are at the river to draw water f…

Dancing with Joy

For months I had been anxiously anticipating my Maryknoll Mission Immersion Program to Esquipulas, Guatemala. One of the events on the agenda sheet which I received that caught my attention was a visit to El Hogar de mi Hermano- a home for senior citizens. I was immediately impressed when we arrived at the very attractive yellow stucco building for our visit. A colorful mural was painted on the outside front wall and the indoor patio was filled with colorful flowers. But what struck me the most was to see the obvious care, love and attention that was being lavished on the women and men in the home. I was surprised to see how active the residents were – not sitting in chairs staring at a TV but walking around with smiles or sitting on the outdoor patio, eager to chat with us. The place had a feeling of peace and love.

One of the objectives of our program was to allow ourselves to be immersed in the lives of the people – to “be with them” in a Christ-like attitude. This visit was giving …

Immigration: A story of people on the move

Last Saturday a group of us gathered for a workshop on immigration.  In putting together this workshop I was reminded of the vast amount of statistical data, research, legislation, and history that exists concerning the topic of immigration in the U.S.    There is estimated to be 12 million undocumented immigrants in the States.  I say estimated because if a person is residing here without documentation of citizenship, he or she is not going to raise their hand to be counted in a census.  Two to three million of the undocumented are children.  A great number have been in the U.S. for more than five years.  In fact, there are children who have never known any home other than the U.S.  Statistics are necessary to understanding the breadth, depth, and manner of an issue but numbers don’t wear a face.  Numbers do not tell of joy or suffering and it is people with their unique experiences and stories that touch the heart and remind us of what it means to be human.  The goal of this works…

Mi Amiga by Danielle Doria

Going to Guatemala for my first mission immersion trip was amazing. It was never my expectation to feel as deeply or to love so unconditionally, but a single person on this trip made all that possible – her name is Alyssa.

One day we spent a few hours at an orphanage. We had shown a movie and were broken up into groups to talk with the kids. Though the girls were wonderful; I struggled to communicate with them. I felt ridiculous, uncomfortable, and even began to pray for our visit to end quickly. But then, a small round baby girl approached our group. She was 2 years old with her hair done up with a bow at the top of her head. She sat with us and when we took a walk outside, an older girl handed her to me to carry. Her small form in my arms made my chest tight. The other girls must have noticed because they tried to coax her away, but she didn't leave and hugged me closer.

Throughout the afternoon she stuck close to me, holding my hand, sitting in my lap; she even got me to push h…

Visiting the Sites of Archbishop Romero in El Salvador Inspire Sacramento Deacon and Wife

I had seen the somewhat fictionalized movie Romero (starring Raul Julia) and the documentary Monseñor: The Last Journey of Oscar Romero, so there was a profound hush in my spirit as I walked into the hospital chapel where Archbishop Oscar A. Romero was assassinated on March 24, 1980. He had been targeted by the military-controlled government of El Salvador because he spoke out publicly, demanding justice for the poor people of the country. During the years before and after Archbishop Romero’s death, it is estimated that 75,000 people were killed or “disappeared” during the civil war.

Archbishop Romero had received death threats and had been directly commanded to cease his efforts to
help the poor people. He had several opportunities to leave the country, yet he persisted. Much of my reflection in that chapel, especially as I stood at the altar during Mass, was a questioning of myself as to whether I am committed enough to meet the challenge of being a follower of Christ. Granted we d…