Archive for the ‘Migration and Immigration’ Category

The Rain People: Jesuit Ministers to Mixteco Community in Virginia

San Miguel sparkles.

His golden wings gleam. His ruby robe glitters. He looks more like a doll than a dragon slayer.

But the saint is tougher than he seems.

He defeats evil. He grants prayers. With the raised sword fastened to his hand by a rubber band, San Miguel will protect a small remnant of an ancient tribe: a people who have lived here, unseen, for 12 years.

The long-lashed, fiberglass saint is a perfect copy of the one standing in a small church 2,400 miles away. San Miguel is the patron saint of Metlatónoc, a remote mountain town in southwestern Mexico where Richmond’s Mixteco people were born. They may never go home again, so they have brought their saint here, to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Manchester.

In preparation for the saint’s arrival on this Saturday morning in late July, musicians strike up a song. Women arrive bearing bouquets of roses. A father makes the sign of the cross on his young daughter’s face with a white devotional candle, a veladora. He carries it to the front of the church, sets it in a metal stand and lights it. Other men join him, carrying candles, until the corner glows bright as a bonfire.

Around 10:30, nearly 200 people stand in the shade of a lop-limbed oak. The temperature’s already climbing toward 90 degrees. The Mixtecos sweat in their jeans and their suits and their skirts. The smell of incense mingles with perfume.

And then, it is time.

Vamos aqui,” Jesuit Father Shay Auerbach says. Come here. Everyone crosses the street to stand outside the Sacred Heart Center, a former school that’s a nonprofit community center. Four men hoist a green canopy on poles to shade the saint. San Miguel appears in the doorway, wobbling on a white litter. Cell phone cameras are held aloft.

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Evolution of a Parish: Fr. O’Sullivan and St. Procopius in Chicago

First established in 1875, St. Procopius Parish, located in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, has watched its community of parishioners change from predominately Czech to mostly Hispanic today. Its pastor, Jesuit Father Sean O’Sullivan, himself an immigrant from Ireland, invites all of the parishioners of St. Procopius to open their hearts to their diverse community. Fr. O’Sullivan’s story is not unlike that of his parishioners, who have come to a new place and are looking for a sense of belonging, which they now find through the sharing of the faith.

Find out more about Fr. O’Sullivan and St. Procopius Parish in the Ignatian News Network video below:

Jesuit Provincial of Eastern Africa Discusses the Situation in Uganda Today in This Month’s NJN Podcast

Last month, a video detailing atrocities committed by Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which he heads, caused an Internet sensation. The video, which has been viewed by some 100 million people, made Joseph Kony a household name.

The warlord and his ruthless guerrilla group are responsible for a 26-year campaign of terror in Uganda that has been marked by child abductions and widespread killings. Last year, President Obama dispatched 100 U.S. troops — mostly Army Special Forces — to Central Africa to advise regional forces in their hunt for Kony.

The group running the Kony 2012 campaign is holding a nationwide event today – Friday, April 20 —  titled “Cover the Night,” where supporters are encouraged to spread the word of Kony 2012 around their local communities.

The Society of Jesus, the largest religious order of Roman Catholic priests and brothers in the world, has worked in Uganda for more than 40 years.  The Society’s Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has conducted peace-building workshops, run schools and economic development projects and ministered to refugees in Uganda. In 2005, the Jesuits of the Eastern Africa Province began planning for a secondary school in northern Uganda, the Ocer Campion Jesuit College in Gulu. The co-educational high school admitted its first students in early 2010 and is already having a tremendously positive impact in a region devastated by over 20 years of civil war. The school will grow to a capacity of 1,200 students and includes agricultural and vocational training as well as rigorous academic formation in the Jesuit tradition, religious formation and peace education.

In this podcast, Jesuit Father Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, the Jesuit provincial of Eastern Africa, speaks with National Jesuit News about the Jesuit’s work in Uganda, the progress that’s been made, the work that still needs to be done and how young people can get involved.

On the Border with Jesuit Father Sean Carroll

Ignatian News Network recently traveled to the U.S.-Mexico Border to meet with Jesuit Father Sean Carroll, who currently serves as the Executive Director of the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Arizona.

“This is a very obvious frontier because we’re on a border. We’re in a place where there is great suffering and great need, so it makes total sense that the Society of Jesus is here,” said Fr. Carroll.

The work of the Kino Border Initiative is unlike any other; it is an innovative and cooperative effort between six major religious organizations that strives to serve migrants and communities affected by the consequences of deportation.

Check out the video below to learn more about the man behind the collar. You can find out more about Kino’s innovative program assisting migrants and displaced peoples by visiting their website.

Jesuit Writes about ‘Contemplatives In Action’ Found Along U.S./Mexico Border

St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, always envisioned Jesuits and their partners as being “contemplatives in action.” He asked his first companions to reflect and pray in order to detect the presence of God in their lives. Then, through discerning Christ’s call, to carry out His mission through action.

Jesuit Father Jack Vessels has been called to the border of Texas and Mexico as the chaplain of the Sacred Heart Parish in El Paso. Before coming there, he was missioned to Brazil for over 20 years then headed to Rome to become the international leader of the Apostleship of Prayer, whose mission it is to encourage people to pray daily for the Church and for the pope’s intentions.

Today, Fr. Vessels says Mass daily at the parish, and many times at the parish’s food banks in Juarez, Mexico, the Our Lady’s Youth Center (OLYC) community, and at the Lord’s Ranch in New Mexico. He hears confessions for many hours each week and goes to the homes of the sick and elderly to give them the sacrament of the sick.

Vessels recently wrote this piece for the New Orleans Province of the Society of Jesus’ magazine Southern Jesuit on the work of the Our Lady’s Youth Center with the poor  who live along the border of Texas and Mexico — both in El Paso and across the Rio Grande river in Juarez, Mexico. You can read more article about the work of the Jesuits of the New Orleans Province by visiting Southern Jesuit’s online magazine.

Two years ago, because of my fluency in Spanish and my experience in the formation of ecclesial communities in Brazil, I was assigned to Sacred Heart Parish in El Paso to assist in the work of Our Lady’s Youth Center and at The Lord’s Ranch which is in Vado, New Mexico, just across the state line from El Paso. It serves as residence for several volunteers who have dedicated their lives to feeding and serving the poor on the border. It also serves as a guest house for volunteers who occasionally return to assist in the community’s ministries or to spend time in restful reflection.

Truly ecclesial and international, the Our Lady’s Youth Center (OLYC) community – now known as Las Alas or “The Wings” – is a community of contemplatives in action: by faith, united in prayer and action; no prayer without action, and no action without prayer! Through service to the poor, both volunteer residents and visitors contribute to the life of the universal Church in the three particular churches where it serves: El Paso, Texas; Juarez, Mexico; and Las Cruces, New Mexico.

“Go to the poor,” Christ told the OLYC community in its group discernment of scripture. It was across the Rio Grande in Juarez that the cry of the poor was most demanding, where well over a million people lived in poverty worse than any experienced in El Paso. Many of the members of the community were bilingual, with friends and relatives living in Juarez. They went “to see,” confident the Holy Spirit would enlighten their vision. Visiting the city’s municipal garbage dump, they found the poorest of the poor, feeding themselves and their children, sleeping in shelters made from trash, collecting whatever might be usable and sellable on the streets. Praying and discerning Christ’s words, “…when you have a banquet, invite the poor…,” (Luke 14:13) the community did just that at the dump on Christmas Day of 1972, often remembered as “the miracle of Juarez” because of the inexplicable multiplication of food that day, and they have been going back weekly ever since.

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