What does it mean to be a disciple of the margins with our immigrant brothers and sisters for an Assumptionist religious?
In El Paso in Texas, U.S., a parish is run by the community of the Augustinians of the Assumption called San Francisco Javier. This parish provides its apostolic service by helping some immigrants who come from different parts of the countries of Latin America.
As a member of this religious community, I had the opportunity to attend an immersion program in this parish for a week, where I and some young residents of the community Brighton served the immigrants with respect, dedication, and love. This contextual experience taught us the true meaning of being a disciple of the margins with joy. When we planned to visit the immigrants daily, one of my companions asked the Pastor: “Should we wear our crosses when we enter their shelter so that all can see?” To this, he responded: “No. Keep your crosses under your shirts. Just live the cross by serving and sacrificing for others”. So we did. Each day, going to the shelter, talked with the immigrants, listened to their stories of pain and suffering, offered aid, and did whatever we could to make their lives more bearable. Day after day, we went, offering a loving presence, and slowly the immigrants began responding to ask us: “Who are you? Why are you coming here every day?’ And friendships developed.
This was a lesson of discipleship, transforming strangers into neighbors and friends. It became a reality as we visited and befriended immigrants every day. We modeled and practiced our faith as we learned from them to be disciples on the margins. From this perspective, to be a disciple of the margins means approaching the other, my neighbor, without any prejudice to see him as a sacred presence of God in our life. In these stories of immigrants, we cannot say whether the people in the margins became faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, but we can say they were treated with love, respect, and dignity. Thus, they experienced a tiny taste of what being a disciple of Jesus Christ was like. Seeds of faith were planted within these people. Maybe one day, as they reflect on their journey through life, they will remember how they felt God’s presence and experienced an authentic witness of Christian discipleship.
Bro. Hugo Morales,a.a.
The following pictures we can see the commitment of the Brighton community in Brothers Hugo and Aloysious who were joyfully preparing the donations made by the Latino laity for our immigrant brothers and sisters who are arriving to our parishes of St. Francis Xavier and St. Anne and St. Patrick.