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Si, Se Puede!

Si, Se Puede!

Above Photo taken from KPCC

Today we celebrate Cesar Chavez and we are grateful to his leadership as a role model for social justice and nonviolence. What many do not know is that Cesar Chavez, is that he joined the Filipino worker strikes as well.

Here’s an excerpt from the United Farm Workers website on the strike:

The 1965-1970 Delano Grape Strike and Boycott

On September 8, 1965, Filipino American grape workers, members of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, walked out on strike against Delano-area table and wine grape growers protesting years of poor pay and conditions. The Filipinos asked Cesar Chavez, who led a mostly Latino farm workers union, the National Farm Workers Association, to join their strike.

Cesar and the leaders of the NFWA believed it would be years before their fledgling union was ready for a strike. But he also knew how growers historically pitted one race against another to break field walkouts. Cesar’s union voted to join the Filipino workers’ walkouts on Mexican Independence Day, September 16, 1965. From the beginning this would be a different kind of strike.

–Cesar insisted the Latino and Filipino strikers work together, sharing the same picketlines, strike kitchens and union hall.

–He asked strikers take a solemn vow to remain nonviolent.

–The strike drew unprecedented support from outside the Central Valley, from other unions, church activists, students, Latinos and other minorities, and civil rights groups.

–Cesar led a 300-mile march, or perigrinacion, from Delano to Sacramento. It placed the farm workers’ plight squarely before the conscience of the American people.

–The strikers turned to boycotts, including table grapes, which eventually spread across North America.

But Cesar knew the strikers’ greatest weapon was simply their decision not to quit, to persevere no matter what the odds or how long it would take. The strikers had to be prepared to risk everything—beginning with their financial security.

Here’s another article on the strike.

Today, we pray that we may have the same boldness and confidence in social justice that Cesar Chavez modeled for us through his commitment to working on behalf of human rights and human dignity.

Here is another one of my favorite quotes from him:

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.”

 

Flexibility

Flexibility

You know those times when you feel like you can’t do something because you’re sick or you feel like you’re not up to it, or you just really don’t have energy for something, even though you really push yourself to do it?

And you wish someone was there to take it for you, or you wish someone would offer to help you in that moment?

Today that happened to one of my students. She had to do something, she was feeling sick, and yet we knew where we could find a last-minute (literally) replacement for her. Her friend gladly agreed and accepted the challenge, knowing that her friend was too sick to lead a prayer of the PA.

Being available, and being open to what interruptions may come our way is a great quality. I’m grateful when my students show me what it means to be flexible and reflect openness with joy to God’s little surprises along the way! …even if it is something nerve-wracking like leading prayer over the PA for all the school! It’s the little moments that are not so little.

RCIA…on her way!

RCIA…on her way!

Today I saw God in my hangout time with one of my friends. We talked about the usual stuff – family, friends, work…and then she shared with me that she decided she was going to go through the RCIA program in the next year.

As soon as she shared that with me, my eyes watered up and I really should have thrown myself at her and given her a huge hug, and instead, I hugged myself, out of pure joy at what she had just shared with me. There was a also a large table between us, so that was kind of difficult to maneuver.

We eventually talked more about faith and what led her to the decision of wanting to become a Catholic, and it was such a wonderful afternoon! Friends of mine who have gone through RCIA have shared with me what that experience was like for them, and most was positive, other than some meetings being boring, etc. But I am so happy for my friend and I promised her that I would start praying for her starting yesterday. 🙂 Please pray for her too!

This will be a long journey, but I know it will be worth it. I’m so glad God placed people in my life where I am able to talk freely about faith and justice. That in itself is a gift!

 

Community in the Spirit

Community in the Spirit

Confirmation is my most favorite sacrament that I have experienced thus far. So when I was asked to join the Confirmation Conference team to plan the exciting upcoming event, I immediately said yes (despite the fact that my schedule was already a teenyyyyy bit packed). There’s still for a meeting here and there, right? Well, fast-forward many months, and now the exciting day is in under two weeks. Woohoo!

One of my dear friends will be the keynote speaker and he will do a phenomenal job. The day is coming together nicely and I feel blessed to be part of this team. Though I do not necessarily work within a parish, I am happy to have been invited to plan the program for the day. We will have most likely close to 1000 people in attendance, and I already feel that the energy and enthusiasm will be powerful. Yes!

Our planning meeting this evening was pretty awesome. We had finished meeting and were packing up, when myself and two of the other team members just spent the next hour catching up with one another, learning more about each other, asking each other challenging questions, and conversing about our roles as young people in the church. What refreshing conversation! Seriously though, I don’t feel that these real conversations happen all too often. What? It’s cool to be Catholic? Talking to other young adults who are enthusiastic about their faith? Awesome. The conversation of martyrdom? I thought I was the only one who thought of such things. Nope – there are others!

God was there, and my friend reminded me that community just organically happens. Being used to a calendar with back to back meetings or back to back agenda items to get checked off, it was a really good feeling (for a change), to not have something to run off to. I continue to remind myself that the more packed my schedule is, the less availability I have to allow for interruptions or to be free with what may potentially happen at any time.

In that moment, if I did have something right after my meeting (which I usually do), I would have missed out on a perfect opportunity to see, hear, and be with some of my brothers in Christ. Thanks God for clearing my schedule that evening and for reminding me of some of the things that matter the most.

Closed Doors, Sunshine, and Prayers

Closed Doors, Sunshine, and Prayers

We should always abandon ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with limitless confidence in His help. — Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

Took off my earrings, put on one of my Mother Cabrini necklaces, put my missionary rosary ring in my pocket, and I was good to go.

As I was driving over, I remember praying to God and thinking: “God, why did you place it on my heart to serve the people at the jail? Couldn’t I just feel called to read books to children at  library?” I didn’t receive an answer back, so I spent the rest of my drive over in prayer. I figured that was all I could do at the time. So I drove on through, followed the signs, parked my car, and met up with the other catechists who were going to train me.

Walked through the metal gates, and I was there! After two visits to the Sheriff’s Office to eventually get my fingerprints approved, I was cleared. A day later, I was here, about to lead a communion service for some of the women in the jail.

Showed my ID, got my badge, and the door buzzed us in.

Prior to this experience, I was heavily involved with prison ministry in the Philippines, working with juveniles and women (sometimes men), and in New York, I accompanied Sr. Eileen, a Sister of Charity to Rikers Island (it’s a long post!). It had been over two years since my last experience in the jails (in the Philippines), but I was back. The setting here in California looks quite different.

So there I was, found our way to the Chaplain’s room, gathered our material and started getting a rundown on the facilities. Every six feet or so is another door that you have to wait at, before it will open for you to enter. Loud noises, green doors, friendly officers. Long corridors.

Did I mention loud doors? You can imagine how heavy the doors are in this place.

We got to the unit, we checked in, and I remember just staring. Staring at the cells and their closed doors, looking right back at the women whose faces were looking right at mine through the small windows, and then the officer made the announcement that the Catholic community was here for a communion service. The women came, helped us gather chairs and we started the service outside. The sun was shining, and it was hot, so we moved over to the shady area of the courtyard.

As soon as I sat down, and circled up with the women, I remember thinking to myself, “It’s good to be here.” And peace came over me. Whew!

We went through the communion service, up until we were reflecting on the Gospel. A few of the women started sharing their thoughts, and after about ten minutes, sure enough there was a lockdown. Ah!

A lockdown is when all visitors must leave and all inmates go back to their cells. As soon as I saw officers running and yelling, “lockdown! lockdown!,” I got up, and suddenly forgot what the protocol was! I remember hearing about it a couple of weeks ago at one of the orientations, and then I immediately forgot, being completely frazzled and freaked out at all of the commotion.

Eventually, we got to the exit, turned in our badges, got our IDs, and signed out. Just like that. (This is not a surprising scene. It happens fairly often! I just don’t know if I’ll get used to it!) I remember thinking to myself, “What in the world just happened?” One minute we were in prayer mode, and the next minute, boom – out the door we were!

The other two catechists and I finished the prayer service in the parking lot, and we consumed all of the hosts since they were already consecrated. So much Jesus running through my system! Lord knows I needed it at that moment.

I still couldn’t believe what I had experienced, but I remember driving back and thinking to myself, “Dear God, please take care of the women today.” As an outsider, processing what I had witnessed was difficult. Seeing these things and experiencing these things on a daily basis, I can’t even imagine.

I’m still in awe in some ways when I think about how God has placed this ministry on my heart. Why? Still, I have no idea, but I feel grateful to be blessed with this ministry and to be trusted with serving the community in this capacity.

Here we go! Prayers welcome. 🙂

 

Image: “Freedom” | CC BY 2.0