Archive for the ‘Migration and Immigration’ Category
In November, over 1,100 students, teachers, parish members and others passionate about faith-inspired social justice gathered in Washington, DC for the 14th annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice sponsored by the Ignatian Solidarity Network.
For this year’s Teach In, Jesuit Father Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, provincial of the East African Province of the Society of Jesus, was the keynote speaker who discussed the issues facing his province today. During his time at the Teach In, National Jesuit News interviewed Fr. Orobator about the challenges that the Society of Jesus faces in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and the Republics of the Sudan in the North and South.
“I think the unique mission of the Society of Jesus is that we are able to think ‘outside of the box’.” I think that is very unique to Jesuits,” says Fr. Orobator. “We can work in parishes, we can run schools, we can run communications centers, we can run many different apostolates, but we can do it in a way that is unconventional.”
The theme of this year’s event was “The Gritty Reality: Feel It, Think It, Engage It,” derived from a speech given by former Jesuit Superior General, Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, in 2000 entitled, “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education.” Kolvenbach said, “students, in the course of their formation, must let the gritty reality of this world into their lives, so they can learn to feel it, think about it critically, respond to its suffering and engage it constructively.”
You can watch National Jesuit News’ interview with Fr. Orobator below.
In this month’s NJN podcast, we spoke to Jesuit Father Ted Arroyo from his office in Mobile about the immigration law recently put into place in Alabama that is considered one of the strictest in the U.S.
Fr. Arroyo currently serves as the Alabama Associate for the Jesuit Social Research Institute. Based out of New Orleans, the Jesuit Social Research Institute, JSRI, works throughout the Gulf South doing research, analysis, education, and advocacy on the issues of poverty, race, and migration.
You can listen to our podcast with Arroyo via the player below. You can also read his testimony in front of the Alabama’s state legislature by visiting the JSRI site here.
Jesuit Father Ted Arroyo said that protesting Alabama’s new immigration law isn’t an act of politics, it’s an act of faith.
“It’s challenging us to welcome the alien and show mercy to the stranger,” said Fr. Arroyo, rector of the Jesuit community at Spring Hill College, “because what we do for them we do for God.”
Arroyo spoke on August 27 to about 100 people gathered in Lyons Park in Mobile who sang, prayed and created signs expressing their distress with the bill approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley in June.
The law allows local police to detain people suspected of being in the United States illegally; requires public schools to inquire into immigration status of students; makes it a crime for an illegal immigrant to seek work; and makes it a crime to knowingly transport or harbor an illegal immigrant.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Birmingham to block the bill’s implementation. The case is pending.
Arroyo told the crowd to find out stories of their ancestors’ and families’ immigrations to new places. He also urged people to volunteer to help new immigrants in their own communities.
“If you meet the immigrant and welcome the stranger, soon enough they will be strangers no more,” Arroyo said.
Visit al.com for more on the protest.
Jesuit Jody Magtoto was in Japan this past May, helping in the relief effort for victims of the tsunami. He reflects on how he rediscovered his Jesuit identity in the midst of the rubble:
I had been in Kamaishi for two days by then. Because I had taken some courses in Japanese, I could sort of understand what was going on. But I came to realize that because my words and thoughts were in English, I could not articulate what I wanted to say. I decided then to keep my words to a minimum lest I offend or be misunderstood.
That night, after a long day spent in the tiring clean-up operations and after supping in self-imposed silence, I decided to have some time by myself. I sat on a bench and fixed my gaze on the bittersweet horizon where the melancholy of the ruin caused by the tsunami met the magnificence of the stars.
“Jody-san,” the quiet was broken by one of the volunteers. We had worked together that morning clearing up the debris from one of the houses. He sat beside me, and like me, looked towards the horizon. “I’m not a Christian, so forgive me for asking—what exactly does a Shingakusei do?”
“Well …” I began as I grasped for words, trying to explain in the simplest terms what being a seminarian is all about. He listened intently as I grappled to explain without theological jargon, in a mixture of Japanese and English, what theology is.
“So how many years does it take before Shingakusei becomes a shinpu?” he asked.
I explained the number of years it takes to become a priest, and as briefly as I could, explained the formation in the Society of Jesus. When he found out that I had been a software engineer prior to joining the Jesuits, he paused for a long time, then looked at me and asked, “But why? I mean, why leave all of that? That sounds like a well-paying and stable job.”
I was at a loss for words. How does one talk about vocation to a non-Christian?
At the start of the 20th century, Italian immigrants were arriving at Ellis Island at the rate of 100,000 a year. Many stayed in New York City, settling in an area that came to be known as “Little Italy.” Life was rough: large families were crowded into tenement apartments, men eked out a living on subsistence wages and they faced prejudice from their neighbors. There were few places they could look for help.
One of them was the Catholic Church. Michael A. Corrigan, the Archbishop of New York, made outreach a priority of his administration, founding Italian parishes throughout the metropolitan area for their benefit. He also assigned some of the best priests in the archdiocese to this work. After asking the New York Jesuits to start a new parish on the Lower East Side, Jesuit Father Nicholas Russo (1845-1902) was picked to head it.
Born in Italy, Russo joined the Jesuits at 17 and studied in France and the United States. After his ordination, he was sent to Boston College as a philosophy professor. Over the next eleven years, he wrote two textbooks and served as acting president of the college. Between 1888 and 1890, he taught in New York and Washington before returning to a Manhattan parish, where he doubled as a speechwriter for Archbishop Corrigan.
Flexibility is a cornerstone of Jesuit life, the readiness to go anywhere and assume any task for what founder St. Ignatius Loyola called “God’s greater glory.” A respected professor and college president, Russo gave up a successful academic career to serve in the tenements. A biographer writes, “It must have been, humanly speaking, no small sacrifice . . . for he had held high positions in Boston and New York and his work had lain almost entirely among the better instructed and wealthy.”
To read more about Fr. Russo and his work with the Italian immigrants of New York City, go to the Patheos.com website.