Archive for the ‘Migration and Immigration’ Category

Jesuits Experience Journey of Migrant Workers

Jesuits on migration journeyThis summer, seven Jesuits took part in a five-week excursion through the Migration Corridor, the Central American route typically traveled by those fleeing poverty and seeking opportunity in the United States.

“La Jornada,” or the Journey, began in Honduras and ended in Nogales, Ariz. Along the way, participants learned about the realities of the lives of migrant workers.

Matthew Kunkel, a Jesuit scholastic said, “When people make this journey, they’re desperate. They’re not doing it because they want to break the law. They’re doing it because they’re trying to survive.”

The group traveled by bus and stayed in shelters, visiting human rights organizations and parishes that assist migrants along the way.

“If the experience was extremely demanding for us, I can only imagine what it would be for the migrants themselves,” said Jesuit Father J. Alejandro Olayo-Méndez.

Learn more about their journey in the Ignatian News Network video below and visit their blog: http://themigrantjourney.wordpress.com.

Jesuit on How Hispanic Catholics’ Embrace of Devotion is Changing U.S. Church

Jesuit Father Robert McChesneyJesuit Father Robert McChesney, interim director for the Hispanic Institute at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University (JST), recently spoke with Catholic San Francisco on how the rapid growth of Hispanics in the U.S. church is changing schools and seminaries.

Fr. McChesney said, “We have to prepare our students for the changing face of the church, and that means attention to the devotional life of the Mexicans and the Latins in general. There is much more of a devotional faith than many of our students are familiar with. It takes me back to the church of the ’50s. We have to prepare our students to be part of a more devotional church.”

One devotional he’s become familiar with is practicing posadas during Advent. “The Latino Catholics will process around the neighborhood knocking on the door. It goes back to no room at the inn. … I’m an Irish-American Caucasian, but I’ve had to learn that because it’s certainly the religious practice,” said Fr. McChesney, who is also director of the Intercultural Initiatives and the New Directions Sabbatical programs at the JST.

“I have been taken back to my youthful practice of devotion, if you will, because it’s a way of prayer I needed to cultivate to serve the Latin community because it’s so central to them,” he said.

Fr. McChesney also said Hispanic leaders are influencing the U.S. church. “I think the Hispanic bishops have had a huge impact on immigration reform,” he said.

To read more of the interview with Fr. McChesney, visit Catholic San Francisco.

Jesuits Follow in the Footsteps of Migrants

For many of us, summer is a time to journey.  A time to travel, hit the road and explore. Whatever the locale, these summer excursions often have one common denominator:  a restful, relaxing, restorative destination.

Sometimes, the journey is anything but. On June 14, 2012, a group of Jesuits began a five-week journey along the “migration corridor” from Central America to the United States. Along the way, they have been visiting shelters, human rights organizations and parishes that assist migrants as they move through the migration corridor.

On a blog site they’ve established to chronicle their journey, http://themigrantjourney.wordpress.com/, the Jesuits say they hope to attain “a better understanding of the reality of migration and the difficulties encountered by migrants on their journey to the U.S.”  The blog, called Journey Moments: The Migrant Corridor, includes photos and a map of the journey and is presented in English and Spanish.

In Honduras, the Jesuits met up with a group of deportees recently returned to their country.

“With little governmental support, the human mobility ministry of the Catholic Church, along with other initiatives, has established an attention center to receive these migrants. Here, the migrants are given some food, medical attention (if needed), and a personal care kit. As we ourselves saw, this return contrasted wildly with the festive ambiance of more familiar airport reunions. Thursday, in the back of San Pedro Sula´s airport, there were no hugs, no smiles, no balloons, no joy. Instead, the travel-weary migrants exuded only sadness, disappointment, and apprehension.”

Several days later in Honduras, the group visited a community in the countryside, about 30 minutes outside of El Progreso, where they spent time visiting with families whose lives have been tragically affected by migration.

“Victoria told us her story through grief and tears. Her husband is counted among the ‘desaparecidos’, those migrants who are never heard from again after beginning the long, dangerous journey to the States. Victoria recounted how her husband left their home in order to provide a better life for their daughters. She has not heard from him in eight years and clings desperately to the hope that she will find out what happened to him.”

At another stop in Honduras, the Jesuits visited those who have suffered devastating injuries attempting to migrate to the United States.

“Many hoping to migrate to the United States ride on top of cargo trains.  The train reaches high speeds, with occasional sudden stops, easily causing people to fall. Sometimes, these falls are fatal. Other times, they injure people so badly that it takes years to recover. Meanwhile, their dreams of providing a better life for their families disappear. This is the case of Jose Luis Hernandez.  On the train up North, he suffered a terrible accident, losing one leg, one arm, and four of the fingers from his remaining arm. It has taken him years to recover, not only from the physical wounds, but also from the emotional wounds: the stigma of now being disabled, the shame of returning home with nothing, the sense of being a burden for his family.”

We invite and encourage you to follow this blog during the coming weeks as the Jesuits travel through El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico before entering the United States and stopping in El Paso, Texas and Nogales, Ariz.

In addition, thanks to the magic of Skype, internet cafes and file-sharing, The Jesuit Post, www.thejesuitpost.org  will also be following the journey.   Founded in February of this year, The Jesuit Post was launched by a group of young Jesuits who hope to draw the connection between contemporary culture and spirituality using a language and tone to which young adults can relate.

Jesuit Photographer’s Work Aims to Give Voice to the Voiceless

For 50 years Jesuit Father Don Doll has seen the world through the lens of who he is and the life he’s lived.

Fr. Doll, a renowned photographer whose work was featured in National Geographic magazine in 1984 and 1990, has traveled the globe “to tell the stories of people who have no voice.” His ministry began on the plains of South Dakota in the early 1960s while working with the Lakota people on the Rosebud Reservation. He had joined the Jesuit order after graduating from high school in 1955.

“The first week I was there they said, ‘Would you like to learn photography?’

“I said, ‘Sounds like fun.’”

After two years of training and experience in photography, he questioned that choice.

“I went for a walk on the prairie (wondering) ‘What the heck am I going to do as a Jesuit?” the 75-year-old priest reminisced. “I’m not brilliant like some of these guys.”

Feeling he hadn’t taken “a single decent picture after two-and-a-half years,” he suddenly heard a voice inside him say: ‘Stay with the photography, it’s the first thing you love doing, don’t worry if it takes 10 years.’

“It did!” he added with a laugh.

“I see how the Holy Spirit speaks to us in the depths of our hearts and I trust that,” he said. “I don’t hear voices a lot (but) when I have a hunch, I really trust that’s how the Holy Spirit speaks to me. It’s true of every project I’ve taken on.”

Since 1969, Father Doll has worked at Creighton University in Omaha, where he is a professor of journalism. For the last 20 years, he has documented the work of the Jesuit Refugee Service in some 50 countries including India, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Sudan and Rwanda. These assignments, he said, working with “the poorest of the poor” have been close to his heart.

“Jesuits have a mission: Faith doing justice,” he shared, quoting his personal artist statement. “I photograph to tell the stories of people who have no voice. Hopefully, I can help others understand and work to change unjust social structures.”

He often finds himself praying that he can look at people and photograph them “with something of the empathy and understanding that God has for them.”

“Often I’m asked if being a priest affects my photography,” he shared, reflecting on nearly 44 years in the priesthood. “My answer is always: ‘Yes, it has everything to do with it.’”

“For me, it’s hard to separate the creative process of ‘seeing’ from prayer. Both can be contemplative acts.”

To commemorate a half-century in photography, Fr. Doll is working on a book and considering an art exhibit to be on display at the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. For more about Father Doll and to view his work, visit magis.creighton.edu. You can read more about him in this Denver Catholic Register, the newspaper of the Denver diocese, article.

Just call me “Cha”: Jesuit Father Tri Dinh

When Jesuit Father Pedro Arrupe was the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, he witnessed the frantic flight of the South Vietnamese out of their homeland in the seventies. The perilous plight of the “boat people” out of Vietnam so moved Fr. Arrupe, he was inspired to found the Jesuit Refugee Service in order to assist migrants and forcibly displaced people.

Jesuit Father Tri Dinh was among the thousands fleeing Vietnam at that time. Fearing religious persecution for their Catholic beliefs, Fr. Dinh and his family left Vietnam and resettled in Kansas.

Today, Fr. Dinh is an ecclesial assistant for the Christian Life Community (CLC) at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Christian Life Communities are rooted in Ignatian Spirituality, the guiding principles the Society of Jesus was founded upon, and help students deepen and enrich their faith life. The CLC young adults know Fr. Dinh as “Cha,” which means “Father” in Vietnamese.

In this Ignatian News Network video, Fr. Dinh discusses his work with young adults and how he’s learned to embrace social media and other tools to reach his flock. Showing that he’s conversant with the Millennial generation’s “digital natives” with whom he works, Fr. Dinh can also be found on Twitter at his handle @tdinhsj.