HEREFORD, Arizona—The desert is a harsh place. Without warning, dry gullies can turn into raging currents after a rainstorm, even a rainstorm miles away.
Just last August. Bulmaro Garcia Guerrero moved through the desert seeking a better life. He moved stealthily, trying to avoid the border patrol, with their dogs and heat-seeking sensors. He moved quickly up the dry gully, stopping to listen to make sure the way was safe. Then, he heard what sounded at first like a good thing in the desert: water! But the noise kept getting louder. He turned to run and tried to climb out of the side of the gully when the waters reached him. Bulmaro was 32 years old when he drowned.
Despite a decrease in migrant crossings and Border Patrol apprehensions on the southern border, the number of bodies recovered from the desert remains high. Bulmaro was one of over 6000 men, women, and children who have lost their lives crossing the US-Mexico border in the 18 years of this century.
On August 19, a group of Franciscan friars, School Sisters of Notre Dame, and like-minded lay people from around the Arizona border town of Douglas, gathered to “plant a cross” near the spot where Bulmaro drown. The group did this, as they have so many times before, to ensure that those dying in the desert are remembered, not as cold statistics, but rather as the people they were.
In a ceremony composed of a mixture of Christian and indigenous religious customs, the group commemorated Bulmaro’s life and tragic death. They prayed for his family and those who miss him. They prayed for the hundreds who will die similarly lonely deaths this year. Before leaving, the group left gifts and mementos on the cross.
“The severe and unforgiving land here is responsible for the majority of these deaths. Most die from exposure, which includes heat stroke, dehydration, and hypothermia,” said volunteer Karen Fasimpaur. “Crossings are happening in more rural and rugged areas. We’ve done cross-plantings in every corner of the county.”
MONTREAL, Quebec – The OFM Franciscan provinces of St. Joseph (Eastern Canada) and Christ the King (Western Canada) are pleased to announce their upcoming union. This union will mark the end of a process begun several years ago.
You are invited to the public celebration, which will mark this amalgamation:
Monday, October 22, 2018, at 7 p.m. St. Albert Church 7 St. Vital Avenue St. Albert, Alberta
This historical union will merge the two Canadian Franciscan provinces into one entity facing a future that is rich with promise.
During this Liturgy of the Word, the name of the new provincial minister of the province will be announced. The new logo representing the new entity will also be unveiled at that time.
Following the union of the two Canadian Franciscan provinces, the new province will include 87 Franciscan brothers from the ages of 32 to 97.
Currently, Canadian Franciscans are present in Quebec (Montreal, Lachute, Trois-Rivières), British Columbia (Vancouver and Victoria) and Alberta (Edmonton and Cochrane).
The main characteristics of Franciscans are devotion and humility as they live their vows of chastity, obedience and having nothing of their own. The work of the Canadian brothers includes ministry with the poor and the homeless, support work in the area of addictions, parish ministry, retreats, high school chaplaincy, university teaching, and spiritual accompaniment with Secular Franciscans.
“As Canadian Franciscans, we must rebuild our structures for the evangelization of the world of tomorrow. We must draw our inspiration from St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis and God himself,” said Friar Jean-Pierre Ducharme OFM, a member of the transition committee.
We moved a lot when I was a child. I was born in Boston, but we quickly moved to Marblehead, Mass. When I was three, we moved to Santa Barbara, Calif., and when I was six we moved to Honolulu, Hawaii. Looking back on my life, I was incredibly fortunate to have been in an environment of a mixture of diverse peoples that is Hawaii at such a formative age.
I do remember moving to Virginia when I was nine-years-old and being confused by the antipathy shown to African-Americans there.
The Northern Virginia to which we moved in 1963 had raw, blatant, state-sponsored discrimination. It was still against the law for whites and blacks to marry one another! (The supreme court case which forever ended anti-miscegenation laws, Loving v. Virginia, wasn’t handed down until 1967.)
Childhood can be a confusing time. Those who attended grade school in the states will recall the confusing taunt of “You’ve got cooties.” We didn’t have any idea about what cooties were, but we knew that we didn’t want them.
In my grade school, I remember a similar taunt, “You’re a n*igger lover.” I can remember being as confused with this taunt as I was with the cooties one. As an adult, I now know that racism has to be learned. This taunt was simply how racism was being taught to and reinforced among the young, the next would-be generation of racists.
Racism is a sin: a sin that divides the human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family, and violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father. Racism is the sin that says some human beings are inherently superior and others essentially inferior because of races. It is the sin that makes racial characteristics the determining factor for the exercise of human rights. It mocks the words of Jesus: “Treat others the way you would have them treat you.” Indeed, racism is more than a disregard for the words of Jesus; it is a denial of the truth of the dignity of each human being revealed by the mystery of the Incarnation.
Unfortunately, almost 40 years later, we haven’t moved very far. The march in Charlottesville, the flood of YouTube videos showing the oppression in which people of color suffer daily, the remarks by the president about “sh*thole countries,” the exclusion of people from Muslim countries (recalling the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act), the suffering inflicted upon those fleeing violence and seeking asylum are all reminders that America’s original sin, racism, is still alive and growing stronger.
I urge you to reflect on how the bishops ended of their pastoral letter:
There must be no turning back along the road of justice, no sighing for bygone times of privilege, no nostalgia for simple solutions from another age. For we are children of the age to come, when the first shall be last and the last shall be first, when blessed are they who serve Christ the Lord in all His brothers and sisters, especially those who are poor and suffer injustice.
And, finally, just because we need to laugh, a Friday piece of humor:
The Franciscan friars of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus cordially invite you to the solemn profession of their brother Friar Abraham Seramieux Joseph OFM into the hands of Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen OFM on Saturday, August 25, 2018, at 11:00 a.m., at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 135 West 31st Street, NY, NY 10001
A reception will follow. Those wishing to attend are kindly asked to RSVP by August 1to Sharon Berrios at 646-473-0265 or firstname.lastname@example.org.