June 19, 2009

Catholic Education Outreach / Margarita Solis Deal

Catholics crossing borders

Margarita Solis DealAt the time of this writing, I am busy preparing for an annual trip to Lepaterique, Honduras.

As a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, I have been involved with a great team of people in developing a sister-parish relationship with St. James the Apostle Parish (Santiago Apóstol) in Lepaterique.

At its core, the mission of this ministry is to develop a relationship through prayer within the Eucharist. Every visit we make and every activity that we accomplish are weighed against this mission.

It is our Catholic faith that allows us to “cross the border” that exists between two communities many miles apart in order to join as brothers and sisters.

For the past six years, I have also been supporting our Catholic schools in strengthening the link between the schools and the Latino community. I have witnessed, time and time again, the “border crossings” that students, families and teachers make on a daily basis.

When Pablo’s mother first came to one of our Catholic schools to register her son, she had to “cross the border.”

With minimal English skills, she opened the school door to seek information and to see if it was possible for her son to attend the school next year.

She was “crossing a border” and was greeted with a stretched-out hand of love from the other side when the principal greeted her with “Buenos dias” (“Good morning”).

While the rest of the conversation was translated, the strength of faith demonstrated by both the parent and the principal allowed both to “cross the border.” Patricia’s son will be starting the third grade at the school in August.

According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, more than 50 percent of all Catholics in the United States under age 25 are of Hispanic descent (www.usccb.org/hispanicaffairs/demo.shtml).

As the face of our faith community continues to transition, we are faced with many “border crossings.” Some will be easier to cross than others.

Why is it so difficult for us to “cross borders”? Some say fear, some say misperceptions and some say the unwillingness to find common ground.

Others, however, see the “crossing of borders” as an opportunity to strengthen communities and to see the world through the lens of others. The beauty of our faith, however, is that we do not need to determine this for ourselves because as Catholics we are called to reach out to our neighbor no matter where the boundary lies.

When a legal scholar asked Jesus what the most important command of Scripture was, Jesus indicated that there are two commands that sum up all of the Law and the Prophets: “To love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind,” and “to love our neighbor as ourselves” (Mt 22:35-40).

As Catholics, we are called to “cross the border” and to help others cross along the way.

What borders are you currently crossing? What borders are you helping your neighbor to cross?

(Margarita Solis Deal is the coordinator for Latino Outreach in the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education.)

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