Monday, October 24, 2011


Hey everyone!

Just thought I would let you know that I finally got out my first newsletter.  If you haven't received it and you would like to, it is probably because I don't have your email.  (Or at least your correct one)  So feel free to email me at and I will get you added to the newsletter list.

In other news, this week is going to be super busy.  There is a conference at the Christus Rex in Grand Forks, ND starting Wednesday and goes through Friday.  Author Sara Miles will be there and I just know it is going to be awesome.  I'm a little bummed that I won't be able to enjoy it with them.  I'm sure they will keep me updated with pictures... hint hint!  :)

I also have almost a whole weeks worth of events with La Red.  Starting on Friday, we will be resetting the alter in the zocalo for Day of the Dead.  This is a holiday that remembers family members who have died and celebrates their life.  It especially will bear significance for La Red, since it is the first one since the death of Juan Sicilia.  The altar will be created in memory of all the people who have been killed in the drug war.

Events will be continuing after Friday everyday up until November 1st.  On the first, there will be a march from a well known statue in Cuernavaca --Paloma de la Paz-- to the zocalo.  There will also be an event in which people can bring their own candles, photos, and stories to offer at the altar in the zocalo.  This will no doubt be powerful. 

I will make sure to get some pictures and more information on this upcoming weekend on my blog.  So look for that update after the first.  I think it will be an amazing event. 

Blessings for now!  And let me know if you would like to receive the newsletters!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Story of Francisco

Francisco is a young boy of 15 years.  I would describe him as a normal kid.  One who likes drawing, coloring, playing video games and loves soccer.  In addition to going to school, Francisco works as a tortilla vendor to help earn some extra money for his family. 

I had the honor of being able to visit his school one day with a friend, Maria, who teaches there.  Most of the other twenty children at this school were younger, varying in age, mostly between 4-10 years.  They described Francisco as fun loving, caring, smart, and as a good friend.  Juan--about 6 yrs--told me “I really like playing soccer with Francisco!” 

While many of his friends talked about him, his cousin Ariel sat in silence, staring into the distance.  She couldn’t bring herself to speak about him.  You see, it has been just over a month since Francisco was taken away from her and the rest of her family.  It has been a month since these children were robbed of their soccer playing friend.  Francisco was murdered on the steps of a local store, shot in front of people who could do nothing for him.

To remember him, Maria asked her class to make cards for Francisco.  They were given crayons to draw and write out the thoughts they wished to tell to him.  It was during this activity when Diego --one of the 4 year olds-- asked “When is Francisco going to come back?”  The entire room, chaos of drawing and all, went silent.  Maria tried to explain to him that Francisco wasn’t going to come back.  That he had died.  She asked “Do you miss him?”  Diego turned his eyes to the ground and replied “Si, mucho….”  He then looked directly at Maria, “But I bet he is in heaven and still in our hearts, right?” 

Drawing by Diego

“I miss him a lot.”  This sentiment was felt by each of those kids.  This 4 year old was right when he said that Francisco is in our hearts.  The kindness of his actions, the love of his family, and the pang of his death all reside within the depths of our hearts.  How all of that manages to fit without exploding all over our insides is something I do not understand.  It is something that I will probably never understand.

With cards in hand, the class went outside to make an altar for Francisco --a common ritual in Mexico-- and with them placed roses and candles around a tree.  As we took a moment of silence to remember him, tears began to stream down several faces.  Some were from his memory, but others were from fear.  “Is this going to happen to me?” asked Miguel.  “Am I going to be killed too?”  The whole scene at the altar was nearly unbearable, a group of children mourning their friend and fearing for their future.  Maria took a breath and simply said “No”, hoping it to be true.

Before visiting the school, a man told Maria not to bother talking about Francisco during class because even though he was a friend, these kids were desensitized to death and were used to people just being gone from their lives.  But that was untrue.  You could see how untrue it was in their eyes and within their drawings.  The empty space left by the death of Francisco was shown through their tears, their sadness, and their heavy hearts.

And that, my friends, is the awful story.  I wish it didn't end there.  I wish I could continue and tell you a happier ending.   But it is a story that tells the reality of Mexico, one in which there is sometimes no justice.  Yet it also tells why I am here.  I'm here because no parent should have to lose their children to violence.  No child should have to live in fear of being killed, or go through the pain of losing a good friend.  It is for these people that we struggle and plead for peace.  It is for Francisco, Diego, Miguel, Ariel, and for all the families out there who have lost a loved one.  It is for them that we keep the hope that someday things can be different.  That someday, peace will come indeed.

From above right:
"Francisco, may you rest in peace.  You were a good person and I loved you a lot.  
He liked to play soccer and bathe."

Friday, October 7, 2011

Theological Conference

For the past few days, I have been present at a Theological Conference in Mexico City.  The theme of the conference is "The Hope of Liberation and Theology".  There were 6 sub-themes to the conference:  City participation, Human Rights, Economy, Ecology, Ecclesiastical Participation, and Immigration.

In order to talk about these issues, we broke into smaller groups.  I found myself in the group that was talking about Immigration.  We explored the life of immigrants, challenges posed to them, and what our response as religious people should be.

The immigrant's journey is a process:  Leaving, traveling, and returning.  It is a journey that may take years to complete, and sometimes may never be completed.  The return step is particularly difficult due to various reasons including economic ones.  Our response, we decided, to this process needs to be one of accompaniment and hospitality.

Though we didn't have enough time to cover it, I think it is also important to pay attention to the causes of immigration as well.  (When) Immigration is a break in community, it is the result of systemic sin.  When we fail to work to repair that community, either simply through acts such as hospitality or by working to transform the system, individual sin enters.  It is our responsibility to care for community and relationships for any of our neighbors.

The conference also had some brilliant speakers:  Enrique Dussel, Doris Mayol, Emilio Icaza, Alejandro Solalinde, Pedro Pantoja, Oscar Enriquez, and Maria Pilar Aquino.  Topics of liberation theology, new paradigms of biblical and theological interpretation, religious initiatives to transform violent conflict, and a panel on peace and human rights.  In addition to all of this, the conference had undertones of women's rights and indigenous rights.

Overall, it has been a pleasure to be a part of conversations of faith and be able to meet people here in Mexico who are part of those conversations.  I am very glad to have been a part of it.

Should you be interested in getting some more information, feel free to email me or check out the website here.

Monday, October 3, 2011

New Information

Hello everyone!  

The last week certainly has been a busy one!  I not only have been getting to know more people involved with La Red, but we had a major meeting with everyone in the Morelos branch last Thursday.  

What is becoming clearer to me as the days go by, is that La Red por la Paz y Justicia is a movement of people, not an organization.  (Though they are moving in that direction)  It lacks official structure as well as many of the pieces that an established organization already has in place.  That said, they have still accomplished many amazing things, including meeting twice with the President and inspiring thousands of people to participate in their marches for peace.  

The meeting on Thursday was important in many ways.  Firstly, part of the meeting was dedicated to how the branch in Cuernavaca would define itself as an organization.  They are in the midst of talking about the benefits of –or lack thereof—combining with the Mexico City branch to be a unified movement, or remaining separate groups both operating independently within the national movement.

Secondly, they established organizational committees within our branch to help create structure and aid in communication of ideas.  If you don’t recognize how important this step is, let me do it for you:  This is a major leap toward becoming a sustainable organization working within Mexico for peace.

While I will likely be assisting everywhere, my supervisor recommended that I focus on the two committees of “Communication” and “International Relations”.  Since both of these were just created last week, we will be meeting within the next few days to determine a chair –which will not be me—and how the committee will operate.  My job is to simply be a part of the conversations and support them however I can.  (i.e. likely taking photos at events, translation of articles, etc)

Slowly but surely we are becoming more defined, more organized, and more recognized as an organization of everyday people working towards peace with justice and dignity.  It is an exciting thing!

Since my work with La Red revolves mostly around specific events, I have also been given the opportunity to work with another group called the Don Sergio Foundation.  It is an organization that works for human rights within Mexico and religious ideas like liberation theology.  They have worked alongside groups like Catholics for Choice and support having dialogues about the many faces of religion.

I have about 100 things to tell you all, but I will leave this post alone and keep you in suspense for the ones to come.  Next few posts will be about:  Theological conference this week, telling stories of La Red, and hopefully will get out my first official monthly newsletter!!!

Love you all!