It is a nightmare no one wants to live, much less have to imagine. A dad stops to purchase some groceries for his four children and wife. While the dad is in the store a policeman sees that that dad has not properly fed the parking meter and the policeman decides to ticket the car. As dad comes out of the store he asks why he is being ticketed and the policeman then asks for his license. The policeman discovers there is a past history with the immigration authorities and takes the dad into the police station. Within twelve hours the dad is facing deportation and a family in our neighborhood is left without a much needed provider. Many people in our neighborhood live with a fear of having to face this kind of scenario. In fact, however, it is what happened in our community just a few weeks ago. But, in this case, dad is not only a provider for his family… he provides also for our parish and neighborhood.
The dad is a true care-taker of neighbors, concerned with the well being of others through his efforts in the parish. He is a member of the Parish Council, he accompanies baptismal classes and both he and his wife have involved their children in several parish programs. The family regularly participates in community events and celebrations. He truly is a peace keeper and a peace maker. Without his presence the family will struggle, but the neighborhood and parish will also struggle without him. He is a kind of leader and teacher our parish seeks out. The community needs these kinds of leaders and teachers to accompany others, especially those who want to reflect on what is valuable in life and how the church is a place of welcome for our families.
Even as this difficult story is lived out, another leader has emerged in the parish… a woman who heard about the tragedy. She had experienced something similar with her husband and she could understand the emotional toll on the mom of the family, as well as the need to care for the children. She heard one of the priests pray at mass for the dad and so she sought out his wife to console, encourage and comfort her. In her desire to care, she sought out and found a way to serve and give back to the community.
In these days when our parish is working to prepare leaders for our Church, we keep in mind those who lead by example and work to be a model for others, that we all might follow the path of Christ. We must continue to respond to our desire to serve others and understand better our capacity to be a leader, by listening and wanting to learn how better to care …together.
Fr. Bruce Wellems, CMF