A conference/symposium on "Migration" was held by the Justice, Peace, and Ecology Commission of the Capuchin Order in Lima Peru. Four Mid-America friars attended the conference: Brother Mark Schenk, Definitor General from Rome; Father John Toepfer, Father Bill Kraus, and Brother Ryan Tidball. Shortly after the opening of the conference, Mark Schenk reported the following:
"Bill Kraus, John Toepfer and Ryan Tidball left Miami several hours later than scheduled on Sunday because their plane developed mechanical problems and had to be substituted. They eventually landed in Lima, Peru, around 1:00 a.m. this morning (Monday), and arrived at the retreat house in ñaña a little after 2:00 a.m. I arrived from Rome on Sunday morning around 1:00 a.m. With four participants, the Mid-America Province is by far the best represented at the Symposium.
The meeting got off to a good start this morning with an excellent presentation by Fr. Rafael, S.J., who works for the Jesuit Refugee Service in Peru. There will be daily updates on the Symposium on the Order’s JPE blog: http://jpeofmcap.wordpress.com/
, although some of the posts will not be in English."
A day into the symposium, Bill Kraus sent this report:
"I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (Mt 25,35). What did we 35 Capuchin brothers do on our second day in Lima at the conference on Migration? Besides enjoying greatly the prayer
and meals and hospitality with our local Peruvian brothers, we considered our experiences and challenges in migration ministry from the biblical-theological perspective (a second talk given by Fr. Daniel Groody, CSC) and from a Capuchin historical perspective (presented by Fr. José Ángel Echeverria, OFM Cap). Using these and yesterdays themes we began to consider what personal and pastoral responses and plans of action might arise from this conference.
Fr. Groody helped us look at migration from a perspective wider and more basic than just the socio-economic considerations, namely, from our understanding of the Migrant God who in Jesus the Stranger and Foreigner journeys with us and receives us back to the Fatherland. In the family of God, the earth is given for the use of all, and our deepest reality beyond nations and borders is our common brother-sisterhood, each one worthy of respect as the Imago Dei. The real "aliens" on this sojourn on earth are not the undocumented migrants but those people who have alienated themselves from God and from their own heart by not seeing and loving the Stranger in their brothers and sisters.
Jesus, who was rejected and killed for rejecting human rejection, rose again the rejected stone now the cornerstone. Fr. José Ángel spoke to us about our more recent history (1850 to present) of response to and ministry with migration and immigrants in the various provinces and territories of this continent. Most of the apostolic work with migrants has been associated with parishes, but there have been some outstanding works by individuals also, supported by provinces and dioceses, like the work of Fr. Thomas More in Colorado USA and the Fr. David Beaumont in Northern Mexico. In all this history, what stands out is that our ministry to migrants always expresses the characteristic qualities of solidarity with and closeness to the people.
The conference continues with the brothers of different languages and cultures working towards greater unity of mind and heart, the some process that we must follow in our responses to migrants and their needs.Our prayer in this week of "9/11" is that we will not turn migrants into terrorists but rather see and welcome them as the Stranger who walks with us as we mutually enrich and sanctify ourselves, our Order, our Church and our world."
Finally, at the end of the symposium, Ryan Tidball wrote about a visit to Lima and his final reflections:
"Yesterday we went into the city of Lima for a visit. Bill, John T, Bob Herrik from PA), Pablo from Mexico-Texas, Josef from Detroit-Panama, and a couple others went to the tomb of St. Rose of Lima, St. Martin de Porres, and a couple other saints of Peru. We also went to the hermitage where St. Rose lived. Afterwards we prayed at the image of Nuestro Señor de los Milagros, one of the biggest devotions in Peru. All in all it was a little pilgrimage. At each place I prayed for the province to grow in holiness and joy.
I am very thankful to have had the chance to be with brothers from all over the world and hear the great work that they are doing with migrants and threatened populations. As always spending time with the brothers makes me very aware of the way that our charism unites us. It´s intangible but real the way that I feel at home here and with all the brothers. What a great blessing! I better go as we are packing everything up. We arrive, hopefully, Monday night."
And, we are glad that these brothers of ours were able to be a part of the symposium! Welcome back, brothers.