Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ministry continues even (or especially) in retirement

By Jeanette Arnquist
Guest Writer

Greetings to friends and former colleagues in the Diocese of San Bernardino.

I began thinking today that I might write a few paragraphs to you as I approach the first anniversary of retirement. A lot has happened in that time. Cliff and I have moved to Tucson. We witnessed the birth of our second grandchild, Rafael. We bought a house, which meant moving again. We have become involved in ministry in our parish, Most Holy Trinity. Cliff is in the choir, I am on the Social Justice Committee. We traveled to El Salvador in March with a delegation from the parish to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero. We participate in Soup Patrol, a ministry that delivers hot soup and hot chocolate to the homeless people of Tucson.

In the last couple of months, we have become involved with Samaritans. It is an interfaith ministry that provides humanitarian aid to migrants crossing the desert. Why?

The first thing you have to understand is that crossing the desert between the Mexican border and Tucson is very dangerous. There is NO water. None. Well, there are some cattle tanks that amount to e-coli soup with a side of salmonella, but even these are far apart. The terrain is brutal. It is rocky and steep. Some places there are trails, others just tracks and others just bush whacking. In Arizona, most of the vegetation is full of spines or thorns. There are rattle snakes and scorpions. And it is hot. At least this time of year it is hot.

Migrants crossing the desert typically do so with a group led by a “coyote.” The coyotes are accountable to no one. There are no Google reviews of various coyote services, so sometimes the coyotes, themselves, take advantage of the migrants or abandon them.

Human remains of hundreds of migrants are found every year. Most die from exposure, especially lack of water. And so the Samaritans provide humanitarian aid by placing water and food along known migrant trails.

Cliff and I have been out in the desert dropping water and walking on the migrant trail. Every time I have done it I have encountered Christ, one way or another.

Last week I out on a water drop with another woman, Rebecca. We had spent a few hours on various migrant trails south of the little town of Arivaca. This meant each of us loaded up our backpacks with two-gallon jugs and hiked a half mile or so off the dirt road to place the jugs at pre-determined locations. We didn’t see a single migrant until we were back on the paved road just ½ mile away from Arivaca. There we saw a young man sitting beside the road alone, in full view of all traffic. He was holding a Mexican water bottle that appeared to be empty. We pulled over and he jumped up and ran toward the Jeep. Before Rebecca even turned off the engine, Border Patrol pulled up. So the guy was caught, headed for deportation. The agent allowed us to give the migrant a gallon of water and a couple of food packs. In our broken Spanish we wished him well.

For me this was like Veronica wiping the face of Jesus. She didn’t stop his death but she did offer him some measure of compassion. The image of the face of that young man is forever etched on my heart. He has given me a gift I will treasure the rest of my life.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sacred Spaces: Fatima Shrine

By Andres Rivera
Department of Communications

May is the Month of Mary. In the May issue of the Inland Catholic Byte, a section of the paper was devoted to the many devotions of Mary present within the diocese. While we did not have room to include every single one, we tried our best to choose ones that represented diversity of the diocese.

This week, we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. In 1917, our Blessed Mother appeared to three young persons in Fatima, Portugal. Years later, the devotion of Our Lady of Fatima reached the Catholic community in Lake Arrowhead, Ca and that is the location of the fourth edition of Sacred Spaces. 

Fatima Shrine at Our Lady of the Lake, Lake Arrowhead

Nestled among trees and shrubbery in the parish gardens and visible from the large windows in the sanctuary at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Lake Arrowhead, sits the Fatima Shrine. Dedicated on Aug. 16, 1953 the beautiful shrine, comprised of statues of Our Lady, Francesco, Jacinta, Lucia and three sheep, were carved by a Portuguese sculptor who witnessed the “miracle of the sun” in Fatima. Built by a community deeply devoted to the Blessed Mother, the shrine continues to inspire and serve as a retreat space for parishioners and visitors year round. 

For a complete history of the Fatima Shrine, visit the parish's website.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mary is our mother and our teacher

By Bishop Gerald Barnes
Diocese of San Bernardino

The following are excerpts from Bishop Barnes’s homily at a Mass and Mary Crowning held at Holy Innocents Parish, Victorville today, May 1.

When it comes to celebrating May and the Mary crowning, many of us go back to our younger days and we remember the activities that celebrated around Mary. I remember as a child growing up in Los Angeles going to Mary’s hour at the Coliseum. We would go as a family. The Coliseum would be filled with people. And of course you couldn't have Mass in those days in the middle of the afternoon but we had benediction and we had the rosary and we had Marian hymns.

I remember during the month of May as a child. That’s when we would pray the Rosary together. We didn’t always pray the rosary together as a family. Only in May, June and October would we gather as a family to pray the rosary. There was a time when you did those kinds of things. I remember my sister would dress in her first communion dress and would go offer flowers every afternoon at the church because there was a rosary there.

The flores de mayo that the Filipino community celebrates, the great Marian celebrations, home altars in May we have all these remembrances. Those were practices way back then. Some people still practice them. At the same time, a recent survey of Catholics in the United States asked how do Catholics identify themselves. Three things came out of the survey:
1. Eucharist

2. Mary

3. Social teachings of the Church
View photos of Mary Crowning at Holy Innocents, Victorville
It’s interesting to see how Mary is up there. There are all these titles of Mary and images of Mary, more images of Mary than images of saints or even the Lord. Mary is a myriad of names and colors.

There is a town in the Coachella Valley called Mecca. They are very poor agricultural workers and they celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe. One of the persons from my staff in charge of communications went down there during the festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe. There was a child sitting next to an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He says to the child, do you know who that is, pointing to the image of Our Lady. The little boy says, “Yes, she is my other mother.”

It tells you who Mary is: she is our mother and she is also our teacher. She teaches us how to pray. She teaches how to ponder. She teaches us how to embrace the unexpected.

For many of us, there are things that come up that are unexpected. How do we greet those? She met those by embracing them. She is the first of the believers. She was the first to show us how to trust and how to obey, two very difficult things for most people.

We need to know more about Mary, because for the most part our understanding is very limited. It is limited to practices and some personal experiences. Mary is the one that leads us to the Lord, so we need to find Mary more, principally in the scriptures. We need to go back to the scriptures and study the person of Mary. We need to see how Mary lives her life in the scriptures so that we can take on her attitudes, her behavior. So we can know what it means when we refer to Mary by her different titles, such as the First of the Disciples. We need to understand what discipleship means. There is so much that Mary has to teach us. Mary’s place in our Church is very much alive, but you and I must study through the scriptures what that means.