Eight people who know each other through work at the chancery got together for lunch last month to share stories of their arrival or their ancestors’ arrival in the United States. Each one walked away after that meal with more insight about the others, and perhaps greater compassion.
One of them was Bishop Thomas Zinkula. “I entered the room where we had lunch wondering how this would feel, whether it would be kind of hokey. But instead, the participants shared their stories trustingly and honestly, and it ended up being a very moving experience. It helped me understand better the immigration journeys of other people, and paradoxically my own family’s immigration journey as well, simply through my telling of the story.”
Now, more than ever, we need to share our stories with one another: to melt the ice that has encased our nation’s heart and resulted in the loss of dignity for men, women and children of color.
The meal and conversation in the Davenport Diocese is a start. It served as a dress rehearsal for a “Share the Journey, Yours and Mine” initiative that the bishop and his chancery staff are encouraging parishes to adapt. The impetus is a two-year “Share the Journey” global campaign that Pope Francis launched last September in support of migrants and refugees. The campaign calls Catholics to prayer, reflection and action in response to a worldwide crisis of displacement not seen since World War II.
Here’s how your parish can make Share the Journey work: invite groups of up to 12 people to share a meal, dessert or just conversation about where your ancestors came from and what brought them to this country. Bring together people who don’t know each other well so that they can build relationships. A diverse group is optimal, but this initiative can foster relationships and empathy among parishioners who might never cross one another’s path except at Mass. Get together in the parish hall, a restaurant or in someone’s home.
The diocesan group that got together for lunch brought trays into a conference room where a world map served as the table’s centerpiece. Each of the eight placed a sticker on the countries of origin for themselves, if they were immigrants, or their ancestors.
One of the participants served as a moderator to ensure that everybody had an opportunity to share their personal story. The suggested questions: Where did you or your ancestors come from? Why did you or your ancestors come to the United States? Why did you or your ancestors move from their homeland? Research the time period of your ancestors’ immigration to learn what was happening in their homeland then. Share the Journey, Yours and Mine materials are available in English and Spanish by contacting diocesan Social Action volunteer Loxi Hopkins at (563) 888-4212 or by email at email@example.com.
Although not related to the Share the Journey initiative, the Hate Has No Home Here (HHNHH) campaign in Clinton County offers another opportunity to open our eyes to neighbors, strangers and others longing to be accepted, valued and appreciated.
Sister Nancy Miller, OSF, of the Franciscan Peace Center in Clinton asks us to identify racism and intolerance and work to eliminate them wherever they occur — in ourselves, families, neighborhoods and the world. She extends an invitation to attend the HHNHH meeting June 12 at 5:30 p.m. at Rastrelli’s restaurant.
On June 21, a free movie will be shown at 6:30 p.m. at the Canticle in Clinton (motherhouse of the Clinton Franciscans) on Maya Angelou’s journey through our nation’s most defining moments. RSVP to Lori at (563) 242-7611. Visit the website www.Clintonfranciscans.com for more information.
Sharing our journeys is essential in a nation that has taken a punitive, not merciful approach toward immigrating families who need what each of us needs: to grow, thrive and flourish; to experience fully the dignity of the human person.
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor