As a follow-up of the international session on immigration sponsored by our five families organized by SIJPIC, the RA from Chaparral and the AA from St Francs Xavier parish in El Paso held a common meeting with their lay associates on January 22, in Chaparral.
What a joyful and fruitful reunion! A true Assumption family gathering! The Assumption of Chaparral had prepared their parish hall and welcomed with joy the Assumption of El Paso. After registering, we took our seats to listen to our speaker, Mr. Dylan Corbett, Representative of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, section of Migrants and Refugees, Vatican in USA/ Mexico/ and Central America.
It is almost impossible to share all the richness of the talk, but here are some highlights:
Dylan first reaffirmed how the attention to the migrant, to people on the move, is an integral part of our Christian faith. He reminded us that one of the first gestures of Pope Francis was his trip to Lampedusa, celebrating mass in the midst of the migrants, listening to them… The pope invites us to “ACOGER, PROTEGER, PROMOVER, INTEGRAR* welcome, protect, promote, integrate. This is an essential element of Christian living.
Then Dylan brought us to our local reality, the particular place where we live on the Rio Grande at the border between Mexico and the United States, and he walked us through a historical panorama of our region. It is a history marked by great movements of population. From the Spanish conquistadors opening the way from Mexico to Santa Fe to the expansion of the United States from East to West, El Paso and its region became a key crossing point. Indian tribes, Spaniards, Chinese brought In to build the railway, white Texans bringing their African slaves, poor Irish workers who took the side of Mexico during the Mexican-American war, all have left their mark. All are part of our history, a history that included invasion, submission, discrimination, racism…but a history that also makes of El Paso and its region a special place of encounter. Diverse cultures, languages, traditions have left their marks here and learned to live together…
And Dylan concluded by evoking our Lady of Guadalupe, “la Virgen Morena, mestiza” who spoke to the Indian Juan Diego, not to the Spanish bishop. She asked for a temple to be built, not only a temple of stone, but a spiritual temple, a temple where people encounter one another. And said Dylan, this is our call today: to be a new people, who welcome and value each other in our differences. This is the strong invitation of our Pope Francis: to become a people of encounter.
Father Peter Precourt, A.A. followed Dylan’s talk with a short and simple presentation of the Five Families of the Assumption: The Religious of the Assumption, the Augustinians of the Assumption, The Orantes of the Assumption, The Oblates of the Assumption. The Little Sisters of the Assumption. He stressed that all are strongly committed to the work with the migrants. He also expressed that the lay people associated with the religious are an integral part of the Assumption family.
Then Sr Chabela, R.A. invited us to take a moment of reflection and if anyone wanted, to share some personal experience. There were some moving testimonies. Gaby told us that hen she when to bring religious services to the Detention Center of Otero in Chaparral, she and her husband were evangelized by the faith of the immigrants detained there. Rosa shared that she realized that serving the migrants at St Francis Xavier was a communion to the Sacred body and Blood of Christ.
Time for lunch: we enjoyed the tinga, rice, cookies and clementines … and the good company of one another!
And after lunch, we were able to look at some slides presented by Fr. Chano, that let us know a little more the diverse Assumption families.
Finally, we exchanged about practical possible actions to support our immigrant brothers and sisters. We are especially concerned about the suffering of those who are in Juarez. We are looking into ways to send them necessary supplies.
At the end of the meeting, all expressed their gratitude and their joy. We want to follow up. The next meeting will be hosted by St Francis Xavier Parish in El Paso.
Assumption Sisters, Chaparral.