In February, Chris Pinney, his son Zac, and four others visited programs, interviewed people, and videotaped footage in Sololá Diocese, Guatemala, the sister diocese of Spokane, WA, Diocese.They found vibrant activity in Sololá but also great need. The video was shown at the Sixth Annual Mission Celebration in Spokane, also attended by Ralph Maughan, Seattle Affiliate and Regional Coordinator, and Bob McFarland of North Bay, CA, Chapter.
Have you heard about the upcoming national protest against US immigration policy and against the half century of US government sponsored mayhem that has compounded the immigration crisis at the US southern border? The Border Encuentro and Vigil, organized by the School of Americas WATCH (SOAW) will take place November 15-18 on both sides of the US/ Mexico border wall in Nogales, Arizona.
A project of Pax Christi International, The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, or CNI, is a global effort affirming the vision and practice of active nonviolence at the heart of the Catholic Church. It grew out of the landmark Nonviolence and Just Peace Conference held in Rome in April 2016, which was co-sponsored by the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Pax Christi International, and other organizations, including Maryknoll. Leaders include Ken Butigan of Pace e Bene and DePaul University, and Marie Dennis of Pax Christi International.
With about 60 people in attendance, keynote presenter Rivera Sun, well known for her popular fictions, Billionaire Buddha and The Dandelion Insurrection, was right on. The Dandelion Insurrection follows a colorful cast of activist characters in a society that is crumbling from the weight of capitalism and empire. Drawing from her other career as a nonviolence trainer for Pace e Bene, she told real his-stories and her-stories of people who changed the world without violence. Her statistics that nonviolence succeeds more often than violence for regime change, civil rights actions, and fair working conditions were heartening.
Rivera gave us tools to mount our own campaign. She walked us through Goals, Strategy, Targets, Participants, Duration and timing, and Resources and risks; then we considered how to apply these tools in our area of interest during breakout sessions.
In the breakout sessions, the afternoon presenters included Benneth Husted on the subject of nonviolent resistance in Palestine, Ethan Livermore of the Poor People’s Campaign, Maxine Fookson of the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (Imirj), and Peter Bergel offered strategic guidance for non-violent campaigns and great music! Each presenter modeled ways to move deeper into that list of nonviolent strategies.
Kevin Carroll, Nonviolence and Peace Fellow with the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (MOGC), brought us up to date on the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (CNI), a global effort affirming the vision and practice of active nonviolence. It calls on the Church to promote nonviolent practices and strategies and no longer use or teach the “just war theory.” See Kevin’s article, "Just War or Just Peace?"
David Stocker. I count myself privileged to have also been a presenter, telling about Border Encuentro, which takes place November 15-18 in Nogales, AZ. See my article, "The Art of Nonviolence."
March and pray. Before our Saturday afternoon Mass, we took to the streets to demonstrate our newfound active nonviolence skills, using our voices, signs, and drums.
Friday dinner. Affiliates and presenters broke bread together at the Hotchkiss home, celebrating International Peace Day. After a delicious meatless meal, we discussed, “How can Maryknoll Affiliates help build a nonviolent community?” Tom Hastings, from Portland State University, said peace is on the path to being a separate educational discipline.
Sunday lunch. Our final gathering focused on Global Vision. Over a Mediterranean themed meal, we shared some of the places in the world with which we feel a special connection. Watch for an Easy Meeting about this in our next issue!
In June, 12 of us set out for the Rio Grande Valley with Fr. Gerry Kelly, MM, and Matt Rousso, a Maryknoll Mission Educator and Promoter. We were not sure what to expect since the US government had recently initiated Zero Tolerance for refugees and asylees, and hundreds of children were being separated from their parents and put in detention facilities.
On our mission visits, we were filled with deep sadness and much anger at what we saw. Our desire to offer the migrants smiles of welcome and words of friendship grew stronger each day. We wanted to be in solidarity with the so-called “illegal aliens” and visit with the poor living in the Valley, hear their stories, and, in some small way, bring them our love.
Our mission program (see Janet Rousso’s article) was an accompaniment, rather than doing for, as we connected with the people whom we visited. Little did we know when we planned the trip in the fall of 2017 that we would be there during the height of the Zero Tolerance Policy for migrants seeking refuge and asylum—and that hundreds of children were being put in detention facilities and separated from their mothers and fathers.
We spent time at the Border Wall and with the ARISE and Proyecto Juan Diego programs, both located in the heart of the colonias, getting to know families they served. While at Proyecto Juan Diego, we also sat in on a citizenship class as residents prepared and learned about being citizens in the United States. At La Posada and the Respite Center in McAllen, which serve mostly refugees, we met people from the Ukraine, the Congo, Mozambique, Guatemala, and Mexico. The Respite Center, a few blocks from the bus station in McAllen, serves both those coming into the US initially and others after they leave detention, who will join family/friends in another part of the country while they await a court date.
But what happened to me during my visit and has continued upon my return? I was transformed by the people I spent time with: Rosa, Julia, & Mario, to name a few. Immigrant, refugee, and migrant are no longer just words; I see faces of real people and their fortitude, belief in God, endurance. It has moved me to tears and changed my prayer time. While immigration was something I cared deeply about before going, I am still carrying the people who live and work in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in my heart. Now that I am home, I have begun to share the story—most people have reacted by saying thank you, because they understand the situation much better than they ever could by watching tv or reading about it. Perhaps my transformation can also open the eyes and hearts of others; that may be exactly why taking part in a mission program is so valuable. We accompanied each other there, but the people of the Lower Rio Grande Valley continue to accompany me in my thoughts, heart, and prayer. As I reflect and pray, Matthew’s words now have more meaning and impact than ever:
I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
More than 300 supporters of detained immigrants and refugees participated in the Mass of Solidarity and Hope at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), built on the theme, “For I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Preceding the Mass, about 500 people gathered at St. Leo Parish in downtown Tacoma, bringing signs and banners and scurrying around with last-minute preparations. Marchers from St. Joseph Parish in Seattle and at least a dozen other Tacoma and Seattle parishes and Catholic groups, including Maryknoll Affiliates, joined them, and we began in song!
The palpable spirit of the gathering, rooted deep in our Catholic faith, was the desire to express concern for and solidarity with immigrants. Esmeralda Saltos spoke briefly about her work coordinating Catholic Eucharistic services at NWDC. After Mass, we called on the inspiration and example of Our Lady of Guadalupe in reciting “A Pilgrim’s Prayer,” (below) and then we filed out of church singing, led by the “Share the Journey” banner.
Advocates for social justice from St. Leo and St. Joseph parishes organized the pilgrimage and bilingual Mass on a city street just outside the Detention Center. By their words and actions, the three Jesuit priests concelebratig Mass and the participants showed their solidarity with the detainees and refugees. The crowd, feeling this spirit of solidarity, responded with enthusiastic prayers and songs. The more that 1500 detainees in NWDC drew hope from our singing and from the information that visitors passed along.
After Mass, St. Leo volunteers sold delicious burritos for those visiting the Welcome Center that AIDNW (Advocates for Immigration in Detention – www.aidnw.org) operates to help newly-released detainees navigate their way back to family and friends located around the country.
Some detainees, brought to the NW Detention Center from other parts of the country, have no family or friends to visit them here. The pilgrimage and Mass truly welcomed the strangers in our midst behind the fence of the Detention Center. May they feel supported as they await the court’s decision on their cases.
A Pilgrim’s Prayer
God of all nations
We turn to you in faith
And compassion for
Our brothers and sisters detained by
Our government in our country.
Many have lost their children;
Children of all ages have lost their parents
While they suffer fear, mistreatment
Please embrace them with your presence,
And the comfort of your peace.
Teach us citizens the ways
To stand in solidarity with those
without due process,
without a home.
Stir us to action with them
and on their behalf,
that together we may all find a home
in a society of peace, justice,
and dignity for every person. Amen.
Carlos Apcho, who says he uses Google Translator to read the Not So Far Afield, sent us several photos of Maryknoll Affiliates from Lima, Peru. They were participating in a Day of Prayer for the care of our common home (the earth), a recent event organized by their local diocese.
Moving our Broader Community to Nonviolence and Peace
Sept. 21-23, 2018
All Maryknoll Affiliates are invited!
Friday, 6PM – Affiliate Social and casual dinner
Saturday, 9-4 – Active Nonviolence Workshop and evening Mass, pizza, and open mike
Sunday, 12:30PM – Affiliate gathering and lunch
To RSVP, use the downloadable form at: http://maryknollaffiliates.org/news/downloads/not-so-far-afield/supplemental-materials.html