As I was reflecting on of National Migration Week (January 8-14), I began to recall photos and memories from a trip to Latin America years ago. I fell in love with the people there in a very short time.
In the slideshow above, you see photographs from the first of a few trips I made to Mexico and Central America, and they were all experiences of openness and being welcomed into the lives of people who chose not to be strangers. These were experiences of profound generosity in the midst of their deep material poverty – but never a poverty of spirit. In fact, I have always said that our trip to Nicaragua was like walking into the Acts of the Apostles where all who came to the table were fed in body as well as spirit.
Once working at a small refugee camp on the Mexican/US border I met a woman named Teodora (Godbearer) who had walked 800 miles from El Salvador (the Savior). She was 8 months pregnant by the time she reached the camp. Along the long, arduous walk she was accompanied by her friend, Santos Santos (Holy Holy). Teodora and Santos faced all the hardships along the way because Teodora told me that she “wanted her child to be born in the light” rather than the darkness of innocents being killed in the land of the Savior. In some ways this is a contemporary Christmas story. And the photo of the woman (a woman in Nicaragua) with child and a cross behind them I have often used as a Christmas card.
One time while working at a border station with No Mas Muertes (No More Deaths) giving out water and bandaging bruised and bleeding feet, a young man asked me why I was doing this. Basically, it was simple – we are sisters and brothers.
My prayer for our country in this National Migration Week is that we will re-member ourselves as part of one family, that we will listen to the cries of the poor, that we will take action on behalf of comprehensive immigration reform.
This is my hope as a Franciscan and a woman of the Gospel.
Sr. Noella Poinsette, OSF is a music teacher and parish liturgical musician who devotes many of her ‘outside-working’ hours to social justice ministries. She is a native of Indianapolis, IN, from a family of six. When Sr. Noella told her father (at the age of 10) that she wanted to be a nun, he encouraged her with the comment that both he and her mother served other people and loved it. (He was a city fireman and she was a nurse). Sr. Noella has been an Oldenburg Franciscan for 46 years, and she still carries with her the work ethic, encouragement, and passion for social justice she learned from her parents. She has volunteered with many organizations, including Common Ground after Katrina in New Orleans and served in ministry at Pine Ridge Reservation, St. Bonaventure University, and as Director of Covington, KY’s Refugee Program, among others.
The US Catholic Bishops’ theme for National Migration Week 2012 (Jan 8-14) is Welcoming Christ the Migrant. Download materials at their website, including an information booklet and prayer card.
You can also visit Justice for Immigrants to send an e-postcard to the President and Congress asking that they continue to support comprehensive immigration reform.
Do you have any stories from working with migrants in the US or abroad? Leave us a comment below and share your experience with others! What are your hopes, prayers, and actions in support of justice for immigrants and Welcoming Christ the Migrant?