Migration and holy week: An Introduction
Ukrainian asylum seekers are just beginning to arrive at the U.S. Southern border. They are joined by thousands of other asylum seekers from all over the globe – hotspot places like Yemen, Brazil, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba, and even Russia. There, Ukrainian people fleeing terror will encounter their neighbors, asylum-seeking parents, single adults, the elderly, and children – including unaccompanied children.
This past January CTS MDiv and MDiv/MAPT Dual degree students embarked on a virtual journey to that same border. CTS professors, in partnership with BorderLinks in Arizona/Sonora and Casa Alterna here in Decatur, engaged 18 students over 2 weeks of full days where we learned over zoom from directly impacted people and leaders at the southern international border. In critical learning and theological reflection, we studied push and pull factors of migration. We asked what the Church is and should be doing to ensure that mercy and justice greet the Christ of Matthew 26 who comes as a stranger in need of hospitality.
Students read Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions (2017) by Valeria Luiselli. The book recounts Mexican-American novelist and researcher Luiselli’s work as an interpreter for unaccompanied minors going through removal proceedings in immigration court. One of her primary tasks was to interview children one-one-one, asking them a prescribed list of 40 questions, forty questions that could determine the fate of these vulnerable children.
In this moving book, Luiselli searches for meaning and raises profound and haunting questions. The instructors pointed to the number 40 and invited the class to engage the immersion course with themes of the 40 days of Lent, Luiselli’s questions, the learning experience of our virtual immersion course, and the students’ own experiences.
In this Lenten/Holy Week series, CTS students ponder some of the 40 questions asked of the unaccompanied children, weave these reflections with other lessons learned in the January 2022 course about human migration, and then ponder what this means for the Church and its mission.
Lent and Holy Week are times to remember not only the sufferings of Christ but also of the crucified peoples of our day. This blog series is our Lenten offering.
~Anton Flores-Maisonet, co-instructor and director of Casa Alterna
This post introduces the 16-piece Migration & Holy Week blog series composed by the students and instructors CTS Contextual Immersions J-Term 2022 Courses on Immigration at the U.S.-Mexico Border. Because of COVID, both the planned travel seminar and the virtual seminar joined for a fully online zoom-based two-week seminar. Instructors compiled, edited the offerings into this series. We hope that this series that integrates our studies and themes of Lent will pose questions for all of us to contemplate and respond to in our life of faith.