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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Impressions

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Sept. 8, 2010

When I was missioned in Peru. our town suffered several attacks from Sendero Luminoso, the terrorist group in Peru. I remember thinking and voicing “Shouldn’t we receive some training on how to be better peace makers and being non-violent?” We just took for granted that we were non-violent. I have learned that yes, there is much we can learn and it’s a life- long process!

When I was asked by Mary Ellen Gondeck if I was interested in being part of a peace team for Juarez, Mexico, I didn’t hesitate because I am of Mexican descent and it has always been my dream to minister in Mexico. I also always wanted to learn how to be a better peace-maker.

The training took place and now the reality of Juarez could paralyze you: the drug cartels are fighting for power, using the poor as their victims to do their dirty work. Extortions have forced families to abandon the city leaving: home, friends, and possesions, out of fear for their lives. Many young ladies have disappeared and their bodies then found in the desert. There is no work, and many live by selling goods on the street: brooms, soap, etc. (enough to eat for that day), So many youth cannot afford to study and can’t find work. The list can go on and on, but in the midst of all this pain and suffering, there are people with hope for a better tomorrow.

This past weekend we attended a workshop on the other side of town. Some attendees came from very poor areas. They had been given assignments to reflect on Juarez yesterday, Juarez today and Juarez in the future. The title of the workshop was Juarencitos a Defendernos (People of Juarez, let us defend ourselves). They love their city and know that hope and change will come from grassroots, not from the authorities.

To hear their stories and feel their pain has helped me understand the need for our solidarity with them at this time. One mother shared how her 16 year old daughter disappeared, Paloma was her only daughter. The family searched for about three weeks and, then, her body was found in the desert. She vowed in her pain that she would not stop until there was justice. This woman has started a group and is constantly being asked to accompany other mothers and family members to confront corrupt authority. Perhaps justice will never come, but brave women are not sitting back and allowing such crimes to go unnoticed, the way the authorities would like them to do.

I have met so many dedicated people working for a better tomorrow for their city, Oh how they love their city! They want to see gardens and trees grow and have beauty again surround their homes and city. They want to feel free to walk their streets

They look at Angie Mann - an 18 year old - and Sister Nina Rodriguez - a golden jubilarian (fifty years as a Sister of St. Joseph - and say, "When so many have left, you have chosen to come and live among us. You are a sign of peace and hope that God has not abandoned His people." They look at us in disbelief, but have welcomed us with so much love and gratitude.

Remembering the poem on the Footprints in the Sand, we realize -- Yes, God is carrying Juarez during these painful moments in their history, Their faith, love and pain will someday know the power of their efforts to build a life-giving city again.


  1. Nina - This post is so very much YOU! What a blessing for juarenses to have you among them, just as it is a blessing for you to be there for your own growth.

    Hablemos pronto,

  2. Hermana Querida. Estás muy lejos haciendo el trabajo del Señor, y te extrañamos aquí en Detroit. Estás en nuestros pensamientos y, sobre todo, en nuestras oraciones. Te mando ángeles y un sin fin de bendiciones. Que el Señor esté contigo, que tengas harto éxito y que regreses con bien. ¡Bendiciones!