“Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms?” ~ Our Lady of Guadalupe
As a first-time Spring Break Service & Justice Trip Coordinator, there were no words for the amount of relief I felt when my group of twelve finally made it all the way from Omaha to El Paso. Now that we had reached our host site and were graciously welcomed with heaping plates of homemade spaghetti by Fr. Bob, a Columban priest, I could relax and start living into the trip.
Our time in El Paso was full of personal encounters with the injustice and brokenness of the U.S. immigration system. We had a desert meditation along the border where we could touch the fence and see the other side, a third-world-esque image of Juarez, Mexico. We met migrant farmworkers who commuted back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico. During the work-week, they stayed in barren shelters on the U.S. side, to avoid the time and financial cost of traveling home, across the border, each night. We played with migrant children waiting to be deported, and we heard the story of a brave woman who narrowly escaped gang violence only to live in the shadows of U.S. society.
I could go on about the many experiences we had in El Paso and how powerful they were. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t somehow think of that trip or the people I met and the experiences I had there. On this feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I especially remember Our Lady’s presence in El Paso.
In the chapel of the Columban Mission Center where my group was staying, there was a large mural of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Our Lady’s presence became a staple for me that week. She was a source of comfort and encouragement. Seeing her, I felt a sense of motherly protection, a confidence that she would watch over me, a newbie coordinator, and help my group have a great experience.
As we travelled from activity to activity that week, Our Lady followed us. Throughout downtown El Paso, and present in many of the places we visited, were other murals or statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Furthermore, many of the people we met were devoted to her. She was their special intercessor, their strength and hope. their mother.
For me, as I shared in the pain, strength, hope, beauty and brokenness of those affected by U.S. immigration policy, Our Lady of Guadalupe was a way to connect even more with the people sharing their experiences with me. Being Catholic myself, I was familiar with our faith tradition’s reverence for Mary, and I loved the idea that she is a mother for us all. Our Lady of Guadalupe, though, seemed to distinctly belong to the courageous people I met. She was with them in their experience of pain and violence on both sides of the border.
As I got to know these people more, I got to know Our Lady more. She provided confidence and reassurance for me as I led my group throughout the week, but also, and even more so, she was a way to dive deeper into solidarity with the people I met. She was a way to love them even more, to be with them even more.
Now that I am back at Creighton, I feel a special connection to Our Lady of Guadalupe that I never used to have. When I see her somewhere–in a church, as a statue or painting–I remember her presence in El Paso and the people I met who are devoted to her. She is the mother who cares for them and encourages me to do the same, to be the hands and feet of her Son, to share her motherly love, and to work for just immigration policy.
CCSJ Student Coordinator
Class of 2015
The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.