Renewal offers reflections from a migrant perspective - Catholic Courier

Renewal offers reflections from a migrant perspective

The diocese’s Spirit Alive! spiritual renewal offers the faith community an opportunity to reflect on the experiences of the immigrants who live and work in the region, diocesan officials said.

“Migrants offer us the possibility of reclaiming (ours) as a pilgrim church,” said Deacon George Dardess, who worked on a project to translate into English homilies written by Father Jesus Flores, coordinator of diocesan Migrant Ministry.

These homilies have been posted on a migrant blog that is accessible to anyone who wants to read them, said Bernard Grizard, director of diocesan Parish Support Ministries, which oversees Migrant Ministry. A link to the blog is available on the diocesan Web site, www.dor.org.

Just presenting these homilies, however, was not enough, Grizard added. To allow for a deeper understanding of Father Flores’ analysis of Scripture from a migrant perspective, he said that Deacon Dardess also wrote a series of reflection questions to go with each homily.

The diocese’s goal, Grizard noted, is for parish leaders and groups to utilize the homilies and reflections in their spiritual discussions. The diocese also hopes to create a booklet — with English on one side that can be flipped over for the Spanish version on the other side — that could be made available to the entire community, he added.

“This will help faith communities … who want to start to discover how the experience of the migrants in our midst affects faith and spirituality,” Grizard said.

Denise Mack, a pastoral associate at Church of the Assumption in Fairport, said such a program will be very useful to parishes.

“It’s very definitely part of spiritual renewal to be in solidarity with one another,” she said. “Christ lives in each human.”

Father Flores wrote of the challenges — physical and spiritual — faced daily by migrant workers, evident in a passage Deacon Dardess translated on the migrant blog.

“Every migrant man and woman is a living expression of a prophetic cry. His or her very life is prophecy. Prophecy which goes unheard — a cry without echo, but not without effect. And yet, where is its force?” Father Flores wrote. “But at the same time in everyone who passes through this process (of arrest, incarceration, sentencing, and deportation) there seems to be activated that sharp emotion expressed by Ezekiel, that most authentic of prophets: ‘And those, whether they heed or resist … will know that a prophet has been among them.'”

Too often, when parishioners attend a Mass with migrants or participate in a cultural program, they fall into the trap of patronizing the migrant community, Deacon Dardess observed. That is why the questions he has written will pose difficulty for some, he said.

“All of this should be framed under a conversion process for us, us Anglos,” Deacon Dardess noted. “What the community of migrants has to teach us is the thrust of the whole thing.”

Because once parishioners or small groups undergo this process, they can begin working toward the goal of renewing themselves as a pilgrim church, which the Vatican implores us to do, Deacon Dardess said.

“Once we achieve a level of humility, we can sit at the feet of the migrants and (learn) what it means to be a Christian,” and to be excluded from the systems in our nation, he added. “God wants us to be in solidarity with other pilgrims.”

When parishioners embrace this ideal, they can then move to the concrete step of reaching out and “connecting with our migrant brothers and sisters,” Deacon Dardess said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For Father Jesus Flores’ homilies, visit www.dor.org and click on “Spanish Resources” under the “Spirit Alive!” link at left.

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