On Thursday, August 14, 2008 I came home from work at St. Francis Xavier, Sartell as usual. However, shortly after I caught my breath, I went to the foyer of the Franciscan Welcoming House in St. Cloud, MN to answer the doorbell and to await Hispanic guests who would arrive for sharing on the immigration struggles.
There has been an ongoing study of Franciscan Sisters and Associates and Benedictines Sisters who are intensely interested in this topic. But this night was special. As part of the evening gathering, we would meet beautiful Hispanic people who would share their personal struggles regarding immigration into the United States.
Along with adults, there was a young boy, about 10 years old, who had a Harry Potter look, bright-eyed, articulate, and engaging. He accompanied his mother and sister to the gathering. As we were standing in the entrance of my home, he asked me what I do for work. I said, “I visit the sick and dying, people in the hospital and those w ho are hurting”. He asked among other questions, “Do you sign their heart with a cross when you visit them?” I was touched by his inquiry. This young boy had a very caring and compassionate way of speaking. Later he said, You know, when I went to school in my other town, I had lots of friends, but now when I am here in St. Cloud, I haven’t made any friends yet. I’m kinda lonesome”. I thought to myself. I hope some lucky students will see your inner beauty and become your friend real soon.
Later, this young lad, whom I will call Pedro, came to the living room where his mother, whom I will name Anita for this story and five others were gathered. Pedro was playing an interactive game, but was completed tuned in to the conversation and his mother’s story to the small group of Franciscans, Benedictines and friends. She, being a Hispanic woman spoke through an interpreter, Sister Adela Gross. It was an unspeakable account of family and personal pain. The six of us around the table were stunned and shocked by Anita’s words. Her flowing tears showed the depth of pain of abuse, neglect, aloneness, abandonment, total despair and not knowing where to turn. It was real. This was not an article I read in the paper. This was a story told in my living room. My heart was breaking.
In the midst of this, one of the group went over to Pedro and asked him to come and stand by his mother to comfort her. He lovingly did so, kissing her hair and embracing her tenderly.
When I went to bed on August 14, I felt that I had been visited by a young angel…a beautiful Hispanic child, filled with love and compassion. On this night, I learned more about the heartache surrounding the injustice in our immigration laws and how it is affecting our brothers and sisters in the world.
When Pedro ate his evening meal, sitting across from me, he enjoyed especially his ice cream and cookies. Joy and sorrow intermingled that night for me. How grateful I am that the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls are committed to the issue of immigration reform.