The CCAO office was a flurry of activity these past few weeks as our team anxiously prepared for the visit of Columban Father Bill Morton from El Paso as well as the Ecumenical Advocacy Days Conference. The theme of this year’s conference was Food Justice and Father Bill was able to share his insight in a variety of workshops due to his work with Columban communities in the Philippines and on the Border. He also used his time in Washington, D.C. to meet with Senators and Representatives; asking them to move forward on common-sense comprehensive immigration reform.
Despite the hours spent in preparation and long days and evenings at events and conference workshops, the past 5 days have truly been life-giving. The hotel in Crystal City, Virginia that housed Ecumenical Advocacy Days radiated with a profound energy from the close to 800 individuals in attendance. There was a tangible passion to be found in the handshakes, accounts of witness, worship, and mingling of the crowd. Each person united behind the belief that our brothers and sisters in Christ possess the fundamental right for a place at God’s Table and an opportunity to share in the meal.
“A place at God’s Table” conjures up images unique to each individual’s experience. For me, this Easter Season in Washington D.C. at the CCAO “a place at God’s Table” is a place setting and full plate for migrants. Our current immigration system fuels poverty through widespread inequalities including wage theft. Too often, migrants come to our country, work more than their fair share in undesirable industries and yet fail to receive all of the benefits they are due. They pick our vegetables, package our hamburgers, trim our hedges, and remodel our kitchens. However, what do they eat? Do they have enough to put on the table for their children?
On our last evening together, the CCAO office and Father Bill shared a meal at a local restaurant. As we got up to leave we thanked our waitress for her service. She asked where we were from and what our work was in D.C. We explained we had been attending a conference and were also advocating for Immigration Reform on Capitol Hill. Her face lit up at these words. “Will you be at the Rally for 11 million on Wednesday?” she asked. “I am going with my son’s school.” “We all need this so much!”
How telling that the one to bring food to our table was also the one to give life to our work. I pray that our efforts will fill our waitress’s plate and those of her family. As I carried this woman into my conversations while meeting with legislators, I carry her with me as I stand with the Columbans at the Citizenship for 11 Million Rally.
“Will you be there?”
” Si.” “Todos Juntos.”