BURLINGTON, Wash. –– A new book about the plight and dangers faced by migrants from Central America and Mexico tells their stories through reflections and prayers.
"The Migrant's Way of the Cross" was compiled by Father Simon C. Kim and published by Liguori Publications.
Fr. Kim, during an impromptu interview in June at a food bank at St. Charles Parish in Burlington, said he believes some of the anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States comes from people who are simply anti-Latino.
He noted that there's not much talk about people who arrive here via airplane from many countries and overstay their visas indefinitely. St. Charles is a parish with a long history of outreach programs for migrant farmworkers of the Skagit Valley in Washington state.
"We mislabel and lower people's dignity by categorizing them as undocumented or illegal," Father Kim wrote later in a follow-up email interview for the Catholic Northwest Progress, Seattle's archdiocesan newspaper.
"Rather, they are God's children, and my hope of tracing the Stations of the Cross through their journey is to allow those living in the United States to see Christ in them, to see them as our true brothers and sisters," he said.
The book's chapters follow the Stations of the Cross. Each "station" of the 80-page book is written by a contributor, of which there are 12, including Father Kim. Each reflection is followed by the Spanish translation –– followed then by an accompanying prayer and the same prayer in Spanish. The book includes photos of Hispanic migrants.
Here is a reflection from Father Kim for the fifth station –– Jesus is helped to carry his cross by Simon of Cyrene:
"As I accompanied the migrants from the shelter in southern Mexico back to the station to catch the night train north, my attention quickly turned to an elderly man because of the way he walked, stumbling from side to side. His poor eyesight caused him difficulties in the dark of night …even with the railroad tracks to guide his every step.
"At first, I walked behind him, afraid he would fall or lose his way before I eventually summoned enough courage to grab his hand and walk with him the rest of the way. …One thing is certain: Simon of Cyrene left a different person that day after encountering Jesus and experiencing the weight of his cross. Today, we too have a wonderful opportunity to encounter Christ in migrants, to help carry Jesus' cross by assisting them in their journey, and to be radically changed by this event in our lives."
The accompanying prayer says in part, "Lord, forgive us when we fail to see Christ in the migrants and in those in need before us."
Fr. Kim, born in Seoul, South Korea, is a priest of the Diocese of Orange, Calif., ordained in 1998. He is an assistant professor in the theology department at Our Lady of Holy Cross College in New Orleans, a small college founded by a congregation of women religious called the Marianites of Holy Cross.
He came to the United States at an early age; his own experience of church and identity is the impetus for his theological endeavors as he strives to make faith relevant in a cultural and generational way, the college website notes. And he has led conferences, workshops and retreats across the U.S. on Korean American pastoral ministry.
Contributors in "The Migrant's Way of the Cross" include:
–– Fr. Alejandro Solalinde, a Mexican priest who operates a shelter in southern Mexico for migrants from Central America. The book is dedicated to Father Solalinde.
–– Juan C. Macedo, who was forced to migrate because of violent situations in Mexico. Today he does whatever work is necessary to provide for his family; he is a parishioner at St. Charles in Burlington.
–– Mary Gilbert, who works on behalf of migrants in Skagit County, Wash., and with the homeless in the Seattle area. Her home parish is Holy Family in Kirkland.
In one of Father Solalinde's two reflections (third station — Jesus falls for the first time), the priest wrote, "The migrant Jesus loses strength. He is weighed down by hunger and thirst, but even the fact of being a migrant is overwhelming."
And in the accompanying prayer the priest notes, "Lord Jesus, we are definitely blind. We do not see you in the migrants around us today. … It takes faith to find your way among us, an opportunity for renewal of our spiritual and cultural values."
Editor's Note: Information about ordering "The Migrant's Way of the Cross" can be found at the website of Liguori Publications, www.liguori.org.
Machado has been writing for The Catholic Northwest Progress, newspaper of the Seattle Archdiocese. A new magazine and website, Northwest Catholic, now serves the archdiocese.