Our sister story this month is Sr. Maricela Martinez, a woman sent to share joy and the hope amid the struggles and worries of the migrants in Michigan. We share with you this reflection written by Sr. Maricela, sowing seeds of justice of peace.
In our constitution as the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word (CCVI) we read of the legacy of our founder, Bishop Claudio Ma. Dubuis, who wrote: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, suffering in the persons of a multitude of sick and infirm of every kind, seeks relief at your hands." Const. CCVI No. II. Motivated by the gospel of Christ, by this charter, and by the call of Pope Francis to be a missionary disciple, I wish to share my experience of encounter, dialogue, and growth with some extraordinary people.
During the summer of 2014 I had contact with migrant families within the territory of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, MI. This first encounter with the families gave me the opportunity to maintain an attitude of learning, to identify a process of accompaniment, and to collaborate in the task of evangelization.
Currently the missionary work is developed jointly with the parishes of St. Francis de Sales in Holland, St. Patrick-St. Anthony in Grand Haven and St. Mary's in Muskegon. When I first started and now there is the opportunity to visit migrant families in the fields surrounding Holland, Grand Haven and Muskegon. The families that are in these areas come from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador.
To me it is fundamental to devote time to the families and listen to their stories with their hopes and fears. My task is to connect them with different immigrant service organizations. Each conversation gives me greater insight into the challenges they face on their long journey to cross the US-Mexico border and integrate into the work environment in the camps. I remember, for example, a marriage of two people of Oaxacan origin whose relationship began collecting harvests together in the fields of California. Today they mobilize a group of three hundred members that migrate between four states within the US. And it is one of the main jobs of the migrants to collect various crops. In fact, Michigan is considered the fourth and last state in which they work raising crops.
Being in contact with the migrant families involves a process of accompaniment. Listening to these extraordinary people made me committed to continue visiting them in the fields, while the harvest season culminates. When they are in their homes, they confidently share their problems, their needs and their hopes for their children. Hospitality is a characteristic of migrant families and they enjoy sharing their foods like tortillas, beans and mole.
The families express their gratitude for the missionary presence of the priest, the religious and committed lay people. They are grateful that we go out to the field, listening to the family, attending to their basic needs and sharing bread. Migrant families are - for me - a privileged and evangelizing space.
Each summer brings a migrant season in which 23 committed lay people participate, parishioners who wish to assist families in the fields. That is why, based on the experience of these committed lay parishioners who visit the camps and live with the migrant families, I have generated courses of integral missionary formation. 2016 culminated with joy the first participants of this course, and in 2017 a second group will participate.
So this summer in 2017 we are visiting 25 camps around Holland, Grand Haven and Muskegon, MI; All with the purpose of welcoming migrant families and identifying their primary needs. The team consists of a priest from the Institute of Foreign Missions of Yarumal, a sister of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, 23 committed lay people and 4 young people.
We ask for your prayers and we pray to the Incarnate Word to keep us in the joy of his gospel to meet our migrant brothers and sisters on the margins. Because that's where we believe and want to serve our Lord Jesus Christ who suffers in a multitude of the sick and infirm of every kind.
Writen by: Maricela Martinez