BY VINCE HERBERHOLT | February 19, 2020
On January 29th, parishioners at St. Joseph Parish in Seattle, Washington participated in a Living Rosary sponsored by a host of parish groups—Choose Life, the Young Adult Community, Youth Ministry, and the Faith Justice Commission. Parish pastor Rev. John Whitney, S.J., led the group of more than 40 attendees in the Joyful Mysteries with a reflection before each decade of the Rosary. The reflections, which were composed by Fr. Whitney, addressed five life issues for each one of the five decades of the rosary:
- The Annunciation: In Prayer for an End to Abortion,
- The Visitation: In Prayer for those Contemplating Euthanasia,
- The Nativity: In Prayer for Refugees and Outcasts,
- The Presentation In the Temple: In Prayer for the End of War and
- The Finding of the Child Jesus In the Temple: In Prayer for the End of Capital Punishment.
“I was excited to bring my middle school youth group to an event that demonstrated how Catholics are equally passionate about all life issues, and to show them a group of parishioners who prayed as earnestly for an end to war and an end to the Death Penalty as they did for an end to abortion,” said Claire Hansen, MDiv. director of Children’s Faith Formation. “This is something that is misunderstood about the Catholic faith: people think we only care about one life issue, when in reality we care about all life issues.”
The third decade reflection on the Nativity honored the one-year anniversary of the Remain in Mexico policy which has, since January 2019, sent more than 56,000 asylum-seeking migrants back to Mexico.
Under the policy, certain asylum seekers, including families, are sent back to Mexico to wait throughout the duration of their immigration court proceedings in the U.S, which could take months, during which people are living in dangerous and inadequate conditions. During this time, many asylum seekers report facing violence, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault in Mexico.
The reflection was very attuned to the hardships that migrants face at the border.
Forced by the power of the state to leave their city and go to Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph find a hovel meant for beasts, and there the Savior of the world is born. Today across the globe, the poor and the frightened, the hunted and fleeing, huddle in makeshift houses, in drainage ditches and tents. Driven from their homes by violence, they seek life on the borders of new countries, but instead these vulnerable people, descendants of the Holy Family, are detained in cages and camps, parents separated from their children and children from their parents, their lives threatened by the policies of nations and the ideologies of fear. May the grace of the outcast God make us fearless to bring life to these places of death. May we, like the shepherds in the fields, respond to the summons of the angels, and go to the children in their detention, to the parents in their exile. May we push back the darkness and death that would hold our children, and proclaim the value of all the dispossessed. May we see the child in the manger in the child in the cage.
TAKE ACTION: Join with the Ignatian Solidarity Network and the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology in uniting with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in opposing the Remain in Mexico policy. Add your voice!
Vince served the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for 32 years, retiring as an Associate Regional Administrator in 2007. After retiring, Vince completed a master’s degree in pastoral studies at Seattle University. He served on the board of JustFaith Ministries for 8 years and currently serves on the board of the Ignatian Spirituality Center, where he helps to coordinate the Men’s Spirituality program. Vince is a member of St. Joseph Parish, the Jesuit Parish in Seattle. He has been married to Cathy Murray for 41 years. They have 2 adult sons, Bernard and Conrad.