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ECC Presiding Bishop's Christmas Message 2022

Office of Presiding Bishop December 22, 2022

Dear Beloved, Back in the year 1982, in preparation for my formation work as a missionary, I enrolled in a class that highlighted a concept: Mission in Reverse. The idea was that one would go out into the world as a missionary yet be so open to the people one would serve that they would be missionaries to us. In turn, we would return to our country of origin as transformed people, giving to our home country what was given to us. One of the assignments for this class was to live for 2 weeks on the streets of Chicago as someone without a home and keep a journal of the experience. Sometime during this intense experience, I found myself invited into the Catholic Worker house for a meal and a resting place in their attic. What a gift of hospitality I received from this community! In the middle of my visit there, I met a Maryknoll priest who was traveling around the country promoting a film, Gods of Metal (nominated for an Oscar for best short documentary). He was so passionate about peace making and the need to call our country and world back from the brink of nuclear holocaust. Several years later, I met him once again on the steps of our nation’s capital. He was in the middle of a hunger fast seeking to call elected offices to close down the School of the Americas. This military school in Fort Benning, Georgia, had graduates who had been involved in massacres and atrocities throughout Latin America, including the assassination of Oscar Romero, the Jesuits of the UCA and their housekeeper and young daughter. As the years have flowed on, I have been invited to accompany our university students to the huge demonstrations and teach-ins that were connected with attempts to close this school. This same priest, who helped found this movement, has been such an inspiration to many by his courageous witness and constant prophetic calls speaking truth to power. The phrase from Pope Paul VI is always in the back of my mind when I think of the many actions connected to this good man, Fr. Roy Bourgeois: “If you want peace, work for justice.” He was forced out of his religious community and exiled from his Church due to his unyielding support for women’s ordination. Most recently our students have met with him and joined voices with many others who have gathered on the US/Mexico border to draw attention to the painful issues connected with immigration and the militarization of our borders. As we enter into this Christmas Season, we so much want to invite once again the Prince of Peace to find a home with us, to prepare a place for Emmanuel, God-is-with-us. I pray that we will again receive the gift of God’s peace and good will towards us and that we, in turn, will be empowered to work for justice and be bearers of peace, compassion, mercy and forgiveness to our families, communities and our world. Please receive this link as a gift to us from the Spirit (speaking through the witness of our brother Roy) as She invites us to be a people alive, awake and engaged. A link to the short book about his journey can be found at the bottom of the above web page.

Con mucho paz y amor! +Pablo Presiding Bishop

Fr. Paul Burson and Fr. Roy Bourgeois

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