~ by Pauline Hovey, National Catholic Reporter
Fr. Tom Greene, the head of the Jesuits’ U.S. Central and Southern province, has come to Sacred Heart as his last stop on a yearlong Ignatian pilgrimage to visit parishes across his territory.
Greene is clearly humbled as he considers the impact of his past work as an attorney handling asylum cases in Chicago, practicing immigration law with unaccompanied minors and offering legal counseling at detention centers.
Whenever I’ve questioned anyone who’s accompanied migrants and asylum seekers about the impact, they turn pensive, sometimes, emotional, as they consider their experiences and attempt to find words.
“It was deeply spiritual and evangelical work,” he finally says, “but I have to say that I was the one being evangelized much of the time.”
Steeped in the Ignatian spirituality of finding God in all things, Greene acknowledges that migrant youth taught him what it means to profess one’s faith by how they saw God in their perilous and uncertain journeys. Their immense faith and hope made him question how he could not have hope in his own life, no matter the circumstances.
“The ultimate goal in the Christian life is to see the world from the eyes of Christ, and to have his response,” Greene said. “So, to see these people beaten, abandoned, raped, extorted, called criminals, how could you not try and help them?”
Yet, Greene says that he was drawn to this ministry because it has helped him so much in his faith. “ I was trying to be Christ for them and yet they were Christ for me” he says, acknowledging that may sound selfish.
I smile in recognition. I’ve heard this so many times, from so many volunteers, I know it’s not a glib comment. From migrant shelters, to courtrooms, from the El Paso airport to the detention center, local volunteers have walked alongside and understood firsthand how Christ is present in the face of the migrant and refugee. To read the complete article, please click here