We have forgotten who we are

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I celebrated this morning with the Sisters of Saint Francis of Assisi on the lake in Milwaukee. The Church in Canada celebrates this feast as a National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples. Amen.

If you’ve watched this space over the past week (and thank you if so) you’ll know that John Celichowski and I participated in the Justice for Immigrants conference and lobbying day, sponsored by the USCCB from December 5th to the 7th. Peace and all good to the Sinsinawa and Adrian Dominican sisters who formed the core of our lobbying group when we (peacefully) stormed the Hill, and continued blessings on Ana from the Green Bay diocese, and Jessica from the Racine immigrant rights movement, for sharing your stories (sorry to be vague – I thought we’d all be Facebook friends by now - ?). And thank you to Brian Moulton from the office of Senator Tammy Baldwin, and Sean Riley from the office of Senator Ron Johnson, for the patient and hospitable attention they gave to our concerns when we visited their offices on December 7th.

Our headline comes from the testimony of Elena Segura, Director of the Office for Immigrant Affairs and Immigration Education at the Archdiocese of Chicago. She was underlining the point that inheres in our common identity – that we are all people on a journey, indeed, the very word “parishioner,” from the Greek, means exactly this. Some journeys are by choice, some come out of hardship, and the Church recognizes and organizes its ministry to people on a journey around the right to emigrate and the right to remain.

“We have forgotten who we are” – and Mary reminds us. Remember her words to Juan Diego, at the time his land was truly troubled and truly threatened by the force of arms? She comforted him, saying “Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection?” How wide an embrace. A few summers past, at a celebration for the life of a woman committed to the rights of indigenous peoples that I attended, one of her eulogizers said of her colleague that she never understood why the native peoples of the Americas acted as if they were separate, as if the borders applied to them. Why separate movements – movements for the indigenous people of Canada, of the US, of Mexico, and of places south? Why were they not all one? Why are we not all one? In Mary’s eyes, surely we are. In her apparition as Our Lady of Guadalupe Mary is the Patroness of All the Americas. Inspire us to turn to you, Holy Mary, Mother of God, to learn how to be sons and daughters of so noble a mother, and brothers and sisters to one another.