Reverend Daniel G. Groody, C.S.C. is an Associate Professor of Theology at Notre Dame University. Father Groody has written extensively on issues of theology, globalization and immigration and has produced internationally acclaimed films and documentaries. In 2012, he served on the Syrian Refugee Delegation with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
On Saturday, April 8, 2017, Father Groody joined us at SugarLoaf to help us better understand what it means to be called to communion and give witness to the body of Christ as that relates to the polarizing rhetoric around migrants and refugees today.
In his presentation, Father explored the integral connection between what happens inside Churches and what happens outside of them by looking at the relationship between those who cross borders today looking for a more dignified life, and the One who crossed over into our world in the Incarnation in order to bring us new life. He pointed out some of the key challenges we face as a global family, and some of the ways of looking at this issue from the perspective of Christian faith. He presented a broad and clear picture of this complex, simple and controversial issue. He challenged us: “We live in an age of migration and it is affecting every aspect of life, but we must keep humanity at the forefront.”
Sister Pat Madden SSJ
, a responder to the morning session, shared from her heart. “I live and minister at The Sisters of Saint Joseph Welcome Center. What a privilege this is for me. I have met people from all over the world. I speak one and half languages and dabble in a few others. My geography and map skills have increased greatly. Our Center is situated between two
in Kensington but I believe the Welcome Center is an oasis in the middle of a city block. It is filled with loving, vibrant activity and loving, amazing people. While ministering on Allegheny Avenue, I have met the most courageous women and men who migrated to the U.S. and left everyone and everything to make life better for their families. Isn’t that why our ancestors came on crowded ships to Ellis Island?
I have heard stories of women crossing rivers with children on their backs, as well as the horrible stories of immigrants turning all their money over to
(human traffickers) who take advantage of desperate people and then leave them in the desert, hot and hopeless, or worse yet, leave them in boiling trucks with no air.
Our mission of unity calls us out of our stupor into action for our dear neighbors whether they are immigrants, students, co-workers, family or friends. The beautiful part about this mission is we don’t need words — we need human contact and human understanding. God’s desire for us is to treat our brothers and sisters with dignity and respect as scripted in the Bible,
love one another
, as well as scripted in our Generous Promise —
advance the rights and dignity of all people, especially women and children.
Following the afternoon session,
Sister Cecilia Cyford SSJ
shared her story. "About three years ago I found God calling me to give more direct service to the poor and tried to wait for God's answer. Not long after that, I received a call from one of the Benedictine sisters who shared that they wanted to set up an organization to help asylees. Their development director, Molly Corbett, thought that having sisters assist her would be the best means to get started. I accepted her invitation, knowing it was certainly God responding to my prayer. I wasn't being asked to give up my ministry as a DRE but to join the Asylee Women's Enterprise as a volunteer.
Remaining as DRE has certainly been an asset as it has enabled me to reach out to these families to help the asylees. We have an asylee family from Uganda and this experience has led me to help and direct them, as well as many immigrants in our parish who are quite frightened at this time.
I am amazed at how their spirit of gratitude, faith and forgiveness is so much a part of their lives. I certainly believe we are blessed to be entrusted with the call of Jesus to help our dear neighbor in this way."
At the end of the day sisters reflected and shared ideas about how our Charism and our Generous Promise invite us to action around this critical issue.