We hear so much about interconnectedness these years. We are probably a bit better now at realizing this truth as we figure how to combat the worldwide Corona virus. We have grown in understanding how important all living creatures are to each other… In a real sense, this reality of ‘Oneness’ is what called the New Ulm Diocese into San Lucas more than 60 years ago. We realized, to some degree, that poverty, sickness, disruption of weather patterns, political decisions all touched the interconnectedness present in people’s lives. The Diocese responded from a Vatican II commitment to be in solidarity with people…for the Reign of God.
There was a time in the late 60’s when there was a measles epidemic in the country. With no available vaccine at that time, the disease swept through our pueblos. There were a minimum of 500 children that died in San Lucas during those months. That memory is strong now – remembering numbers of small caskets at daily funeral Masses, weeping parents, severe depression. The memory gives reality to cornonavirus prayer today for victims, grieving families, health care workers …throughout our interconnected world.
There was a time in the early 80’s when the refugee ‘stream’ moving toward Mexico went through San Lucas. Several of these families, and sometimes individuals, stayed with the Sisters in the parish convent, until it was safe to move on. In 1982, I wrote a prayer for these people, from listening to the stories they told and the reality they lived. I wonder if all the migrant, refugee movement in our world today is not the result of a silent, unnamed pandemic that has been taking place for many years. What are our world patterns that have so broken down our interconnectedness?
It occurs to me that this prayer has become appropriate again. I share it with you, and invite you to pray it for the many Guatemalan refugees, who for different historical reasons, are once again, seeking safety and life, defenseless against the Corona Virus.
PRAYER FOR GUATEMALAN REFUGEES – March, 1982
Gracious God, as neighbors are forced to take to the road, to hide in the hills, fields, ravines and
caves of their country – The women (mothers, widows, the abuelas)
The children – with whatever life they still have…
Give them Angels that build a guard so tightly around them
That they are not visible to enemy eyes;
That their names are lost to any list;
That their means of travel is not stopped and searched;
That there is some door that will open to them;
That they will be spared prying questions and suspicious minds.
Lead them, Lord, where they can find food for their hunger, medicine for their sickness,
some covering for the cold and protection from the rain.
In Your Mercy, gentle God, take from each of them, memories of chilling fears and haunted dreams.
Bring us justly to such peace in this time, that whatever families are left, may have the courage to rebuild their lives, and know new reason for their faith in YOU.
In those days the danger to the people was from the Guatemalan Army. Today – as I read it – 60% of the country is controlled by drug gangs. Because of a severe drought, the farmers have not been able to plant for at least two years. In some ways, the larger social reality of Guatemala could be lost to visitors of San Lucas who did then and still do, give such generous financial support to that protected area.
This prayer moves beyond San Lucas, an island of hope, into the real and dark reality of our human disconnectedness with each other and the planet on which we live. May the coronavirus shock us back to our need for human collaboration beyond all borders, all religions, all political biases, all economic systems, for the sake of LIFE..
Thank you, faithful supporters of San Lucas, for your part in helping this reality of interconnectedness to happen.
Sandra M. Spencer, a former School Sister of Notre Dame under the name Sister M. Philomena, served San Lucas from 1964 – 1983.