“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34)
Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age (Matthew 25:35-43). The Lord entrusts to the Church’s motherly love every person forced to leave their homeland in search of a better future. This solidarity must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience – from departure through journey to arrival and return. This is a great responsibility, which the Church intends to share with all believers and men and women of good will, who are called to respond to the many challenges of contemporary migration with generosity, promptness, wisdom and foresight, each according to their own abilities.
(Message of His Holiness Pope Francis, for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2018, Issued 15 August 2017)
The Roman Catholic Jesuit Parishes of San Francisco - St. Agnes and St. Ignatius – recognize God’s call to respect and protect the human dignity of all people, regardless of where they are in life’s journey. We share with God the deep desire for a world rooted in peace, mercy, and compassion. With the City of St. Francis as our home, we are compelled to follow the example of our patron, as well as heed the Church’s call to a preferential option for the poor and the urgent exhortation of the Society of Jesus to be women and men for others and accompany migrants on their journeys. To that end, the Parishes together affirm that we are sanctuaries for migrants, refugees, and other peaceful people who may be subject to exclusion or removal from this land.
As sanctuary parishes, we are working together to treat all our brothers and sisters – including those who seek to be among us, but have not yet completed their journey, and those who are among us, yet undocumented, unwelcome, or unfairly targeted – with the same respect and dignity afforded any person in our community.
To this end, we commit to actively:
As Catholic Jesuit Parishes, we are specifically called to join in the larger Jesuit commitment to serve and walk with migrants throughout their journeys. We know that this process and the people we meet will change our hearts; this is truly what our faith is about. That is, we offer this pledge to serve our brothers and sisters, all for the greater glory of God.
With God’s love and the Spirit’s hope,
Ray Allender, S.J., Pastor, St. Agnes Parish
Greg Bonfiglio, S.J, Pastor, St. Ignatius Parish
Dear Community of the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center,
Today I write to you a letter of gratitude. This month marks two years since I began my journey with all of you, with the Children’s Faith Formation program and the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center. In that time, you have formed me as a minister, shown me what it means to be church and given me the courage to continue to say yes to God’s call in my life. In short, my heart is full. As I have said before, I am in awe of the Community of St. Agnes and the openness of our hearts as the Spirit, constantly and unfailingly, moves us to love God and our neighbors ever more deeply.
One of my spiritual companions, Thomas Merton, eloquently articulates the gratitude that I have for all of you:
To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything God has given us -and God has given us everything…
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive,
is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise the goodness of God.
For the grateful person knows that God is good,
not by hearsay but by experience.
And that is what makes all the difference. (Thomas Merton)
All in all, my brothers & sisters, you have given me new eyes to see the beauty, love and heart of God. For that, I am eternally grateful.
Today I also write to you to share some news that comes after a challenging discernment this Fall. After hearing clearly God’s call for me to embark on a road not yet travelled in God’s journey for me, I will be transitioning out of ministry at St. Agnes & the ISLC at the end of December. Throughout the next two months I look forward to spending time with you and to preparing the Children’s Faith Formation program and ISLC for all that God has in store next. Dearest St. Agnes Community, my heart is full. As Merton says, because of my experience in community with you, you have awoken me to wonder and to praise the goodness of God.
Dear Community of the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center,
Jesus’ message in this past Sunday's Gospel could not be clearer.
“The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments...You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind….You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
I have noticed that in these last months I have spent a lot of time asking, What should I do, what can we do, to respond to the injustice that plagues our country and world? These questions wake me up in the middle of the night and leave me with a good bit of anxiety. It’s nearly paralyzing. There’s so much to be done, where do we even start?
This week I realized I have been asking the wrong questions. Instead of focusing on the doing, the question is more about who do I need to become and who do we need to become at this time in the history of our world? As we, the Ignatian Family, continue our mission of being people for and with others, this question can be our guiding principle. As we journey together through life our greatest desire, as St. Ignatius says in the first principle and foundations of the Spiritual Exercises, is I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening God’s life in me (Translation: David Fleming, SJ). Embodying this desire in our daily lives will unfailingly and continually reveal to us our identity in God.
As we experience and witness God in our own identity, in the identities of all people and all of creation, then the “what should we do” piece will too be revealed. So, my sisters and brothers, reserve a moment today to contemplate, with God and your neighbors, and ask, who am I becoming? Who are we becoming? From here, the path, the what to dos and God’s dream will become clearer and clearer.
As we continue to discover and discern who we are becoming, I want to share with you a provocative question that was presented this week to a group of over 300 clergy, faith leaders and tribal elders gathered in Indianapolis, Indiana for a Prophetic Resistance Summit hosted by the PICO National Network. Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews and Ben McBride ask us this: Are you a chaplain to the Empire or a prophet of the Resistance, a midwife of a new Divine Creation?
Ignatian Family, who are we? Who is God calling us to be? I believe it is to be prophets and midwives. May the Holy Spirit ipmart on us the wisdom to know, live and breathe what “the whole law and prophets depend on.” And that, Beloved Community, is Love.