Walking with the World, a lamentation with prayers

Led by diocesan VIA director Trinidad Molina and Hispanic Ministry director Miguel Salazar, on guitar, the group walked singing, “Perdona a tu pueblo, Senor” (Forgive us, your people, O Lord), from Concord Park to St. Anthony’s Church July 19 for a prayer vigil for the world. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — About 50 people gathered at the John F. Kennedy Memorial in Concourse Park at Benton Blvd. and St. John Avenue July 19 to begin a prayer vigil for what organizer Trinidad Molina described as “all the horrible things going on in immigration, human rights, and the world today.”

Carrying white flowers and unlit white candles through the early evening sunshine from the park to St. Anthony’s Church, they sang, “Perdona a tu pueblo, senor,” “Forgive us, your people, O Lord,” accompanied by Miguel Salazar, diocesan Hispanic Ministry director, on guitar.

Inside the church, they grouped in pews near the sanctuary and listened as Molina and introduced Father Andres Moreno, pastor of St. Anthony’s Parish, who welcomed and led them in “a prayer for the whole world.”

Fr. Moreno continued, “We are all part of the same family, brothers and sisters … gathered as a family to pray for a conversion of heart in the leaders of this world. Help us to tear down the walls of division, to bring families together to worship you, to love you.”

Six speakers shared stories and thoughts with the attendees. The first, Pedro Argumedo, spoke about a woman separated at the border from her 5-year old son. He said she considered suicide, but never gave of hope of being reunited with her child. Six weeks after the separation, the mother was granted asylum and was transported by bus from Arizona to Georgia, while the little boy remained in Arizona. It took another week, but she was finally able to meet and hug her son when he arrived by plane in Atlanta. Although this story had a happy ending, Argumedo concluded, more often than not, reunions take months or years if they do happen.

LAMP (Language Access Multicultural People) a translation-interpretation firm out of Catholic Charities of St. Louis and now in Kansas City, provided a Spanish-English interpreter, Jeannette Suarez.

Between speakers, Miguel Salazar on guitar led the assembly in a short verse of lamentation in Spanish.

Trinidad Molina spoke of studying in El Salvador in 2012. He spent time with a poor community in the mountains and grew close to one family. “They were like my own family,” he said.

While Molina was in the mountains, the father of the family was jumped by a gang one evening and murdered. Molina said many different factors contribute to Central American emigration to the U.S., and gang violence is one factor.

Michelle Hernandez traveled from St. Louis to speak on the Jan. 8, 2018 ending of the Temporary Protective Status for immigrants and asylum seekers from El Salvador, about 200,000 people.

Men, women, teenagers and children of many heritages approach St. Anthony’s Church to pray for immigrants and others living in fear, sorrow, poverty and pain. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

Venezuelan-born Raiza Guevara, a U.S. citizen living in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph was the fourth speaker. She recently was commissioned by Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr. as a pastoral agent of the new Pastoral Migratoria program, a comprehensive support program for migrating peoples, begun in the Archdiocese of Chicago and now in the dioceses of Kansas City- St. Joseph, and Stockton Calif., as well. The Pastoral Migratoria program teaches lay leaders to apply Catholic social teaching to issues locally and to implement the program’s three pillars — justice, service and accompaniment — as a migrant to migrant ministry.

Ana Ramirez, who originally thought of the prayer vigil, spoke of a woman, Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzales, who was attempting to cross the border and panicked at the sight of border patrol agents. She turned and ran and was shot and killed by an agent.

With his younger brother standing near, the last speaker was 18-year old Eduardo Mendez-Ramirez, whose father Crecensio was arrested and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a regular check-in with a Kansas City-Kan., immigration office. He was transported to a detention center in Versailles, Mo., leaving his wife and four sons without financial support. Eduardo spoke through an interpreter of his mother’s inability to work as one of her sons has a bone disease and must receive weekly shots at Children’s Mercy Hospital; he said he works after school and during the summer and gives all the money he earns to his mother to pay bills. Raiza Guevara elaborated on Eduardo’s short talk in both English and Spanish.

After stepping down from the podium, Eduardo and his brother began a candle-lighting ceremony, and soon flickering lights shone in many hands.

Trinidad Molina concluded the prayer vigil by leading all present in the Seven Sorrows of Mary Devotion.

Carrying the white flowers and lit candles, the assembly then walked to a courtyard on the south side of the church, where an altar was set up. One by one, or two by two, they placed the flowers and the candles on the altar, some saying a short prayer.

Several co-organizers of the vigil were represented. From the Mattie Rhodes Center, John Fierro, Cristina, and speaker Ana Ramirez came. They also donated a few hundred dollars in food and water. Ana shared her story from Guatemala in her local Mayan language. She is a year-long VISTA volunteer with NEAT, the North East Alliance Together program.

• Jerusalem Farm. Jordan Schiele, who with his wife Jessie are the directors, brought five volunteers, community members, and two groups of high schoolers from Chicago and Winona, Minn.

• AIRR (Advocates for Immigrant Rights and Reconciliation)

• Diocese of KCSJ (Human Rights and Hispanic Ministry Offices) – Pastoral Migratoria, represented by Raiza Guevara and Miguel Salazar. VIA, the diocesan program, in partnership with the diocesan Hispanic Ministry and Human Rights offices, providing pastoral care, education, public policy advocacy and prayer support on immigration and refugee issues. Trinidad Molina currently is director of VIA.

• St. Anthony Parish – Father Andres Moreno represented the parish.

Food and fellowship followed.

To learn more about Pastoral Migratoria and VIA, contact the diocesan Human Rights Office.


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November 25, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph