The Jesuit Border Podcast Season 3 Study Guide

by and | Jan 19, 2023 | Current Events, Immigration, In the News, TJPodcast

The Jesuit Border Podcast seeks to promote a greater understanding of the migrant situation at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Catholic response. In the third season, Louie and Brian get to know those who are helping migrants in the Rio Grande Valley and beyond. Our study guide can help you use the series for classroom teaching, group discussion, or deeper personal reflection.

Go to the main page for the Jesuit Border Podcast.

 

Episode 1: “Eucharist as a Bridge Across Borders” with Bishop Mark Seitz of the Diocese of El Paso, TX

Bishop Mark Seitz of the Diocese of El Paso, TX is known for his advocacy for the poor and vulnerable, offering a unique perspective as a leader of the Church in a border community. In this episode, he calls for a deeper conversation about migration, one that is not solely dominated by socio-political concerns, but shaped by a theological perspective that identifies the migrant experience as essential for understanding the Church. He also talks about celebrating Mass at the border wall on an altar which straddled both sides; a reminder of the unifying force of the Eucharist even amidst division. Fr. Louie and Fr. Brian offer their own reflection on experiences of breaking bread with migrants through their Sacramental ministry; including with a 12-year-old altar server named Vincent who just can’t quite seem to figure out when to ring the bells.

Reflection from Scripture: 

“They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.” Acts 2:42-43

 

Questions before listening to the episode:

  • The Eucharist is celebrated all around the world in every language. If you were at a Mass in a different language, how could you still actively participate? What parts of the Mass would you recognize, even if you didn’t speak the language?
  • What are two examples of migration from Scripture or from the history of the Church? How do you think these examples relate to the experiences of migrants today?
  • What are some major divisions that you see in your church, community, or school? How does our faith challenge us to overcome those divisions?

 

Questions after listening to the episode:

  • Bishop Seitz says that the theological theme of migration is “not new stuff.” What does he mean by that?
  • In the interview, Bishop Seitz traces his defense of immigrant rights to the Pro-Life movement. How are these issues connected, and what does that say about having a consistent life ethic?
  • What’s a story from this episode, either from Bishop Seitz or from Fr. Brian and Fr. Louie, that had an impact on you? Recount the story and explain why it stuck with you.

Episode 2: “Staying in Touch / Seguimos en Contacto” with Astrid Dominguez from Good Neighbor Settlement House

Astrid Dominguez is the Executive Director of Good Neighbor Settlement House. Good Neighbor is a nonprofit serving the unhoused in Brownsville, TX with meals, clothing, showers, and support services. They also coordinate the Migrant Welcome Center by the local bus station with other partner organizations. Astrid shares from her experience as a first-generation immigrant and as a mother, and how those facets of her life inform her work for justice. 

Fr. Louie and Fr. Brian reflect on the graces that have come from keeping in touch with migrants after they’ve entered the U.S. and dispersed around the country to be with family. They caught up with their good friend Claudia at the Jesuit ordinations in St. Louis in June and took some requisite selfies with her. And they’ve hosted a couple of Zoom Masses with migrants from the Catholic community in the Reynosa plaza, despite the challenges of trying to explain time zones!

 

Reflection from Scripture: 

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:8-10

 

Questions before listening to the episode:

  • What are some of the challenges that homeless people face in your city? What organizations are working to address those challenges?
  • Do you have any friends or family who live far away? How do you stay in touch with them? What are some of the challenges to staying in touch?
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, many aspects of life were moved online. What advantages does this kind of technology bring? What do we miss out on when we can’t gather in person?

 

Questions after listening to the episode:

  • For people like Astrid, Fr. Brian, and Fr. Louie who are working on the border, why is it important to stay in touch with people they encounter in their work? 
  • What are the dynamics that keep people stuck on the border? Once they enter the US with permission, where do they go? What drives that decision?
  • Astrid reflected on her own motherhood as an imitation of Mary “who kept all these things in her heart,” what do you think she means by that? What is an example in this episode of a strong mother fighting for her family?

Episode 3: “Particular Vulnerabilities” with Fr. Matt Kuczora, CSC

Fr. Matt Kuczora, CSC, is a Holy Cross priest in law school at the University of Notre Dame. He spent the summer in Brownsville working with Project Dignity Legal Team, where he helped to set up a system for assisting migrants with “particular vulnerabilities” who are eligible to be paroled into the United States. Fr. Louie and Fr. Brian share their own experience helping submit cases for migrants with particular vulnerabilities, in particular, pregnant women. They talk about a couple of techniques they use to try to avoid getting overwhelmed with requests for legal aid, which have been met with mixed results, to say the least. Since Fr. Matt also lived in their community during the summer, Fr. Louie and Fr. Brian end the episode trying to get him to pick his favorite person to live with between the two of them. Who will he choose?!?

 

Reflection from Scripture: 

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17

 

Questions before listening to the episode:

  • Name one group of people in society who often experience prejudice. What organizations are fighting on their behalf? What does our church say about this kind of injustice?
  • Who is a historical figure who raised awareness of unjust treatment for a marginalized community? What can we learn from their life and example to help our resistance to contemporary injustice?
  • Why might pregnant women be considered particularly vulnerable as they are making the migrant journey? List three reasons why the journey would be especially challenging for pregnant women.

 

Questions after listening to the episode:

  • In this episode Fr. Brian, Fr. Louie, and Fr. Matt, name several groups of people who are considered vulnerable. What groups did they mention? What other groups do you think would also be particularly vulnerable among migrants?
  • Fr. Matt is a priest and he is studying to be a lawyer. What impact did his priesthood have on the people to whom he provided legal aid? What’s one story that he shared that stuck with you?
  • As Fr. Matt mentioned, Pope Francis has made concern for migrants and refugees a cornerstone of his pontificate. How does the Pope connect the experience of the Holy Family to modern day migrants?

Episode 4: “Faithfulness” with Mary Bull from Annunciation House in El Paso, TX

Mary Bull is a house coordinator at Annunciation House in El Paso, TX. Annunciation House was founded in the 1970s to accompany the migrant, refugee, and economically vulnerable peoples of the border region through hospitality, advocacy, and education. They operate several houses of hospitality for migrants in El Paso. Mary talks about what first brought her from Michigan down to the border, and what has inspired her to continue her work there for the past ten years. Fr. Louie and Fr. Brian share examples of faithfulness in mission that they’ve encountered, including the two Mexican Jesuits who were killed earlier this year in the Tarahumara mountains, Fr. Javier Campos, SJ, and Fr. Joaquin Mora, SJ. They also talk about a local example of faithfulness, Sr. Edith Garrido, a Daughter of Charity working at Casa del Migrante in Reynosa. She has been rightly described as the beating heart of the shelter, and Fr. Louie and Fr. Brian get a laugh speculating widely about her age.

 

Reflection from Scripture: 

“Mary said to the angel Gabriel, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’” (Luke 1:38)

 

Questions before listening to the episode:

  • Read the story of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38). How does Mary respond to the message from the angel? In what ways was she faithful to this message throughout her life?
  • What are two examples of faithfulness in your own life (in your church, community, family, or school)? What impact do these examples have on you?
  • Reflect on an experience you’ve had when you’ve dedicated yourself to something and it got challenging. Describe the experience and how you overcame the challenges.

 

Questions after listening to the episode:

  • Mary Bull has dedicated her life to service with the poor and vulnerable. What attracted her to El Paso in the first place and what inspired her to stay?
  • Mary says, “the border is everywhere.” What does she mean by that? How is “the border” present in your city?
  • In this episode, Fr. Brian and Fr. Louie share a couple of examples of faithfulness. What story stuck out to you? What was it about the story that inspired you?

Episode 5: “Attention to Details” with Tom Cartwright from the RGV Welcome Committee

Tom Cartwright is an advocate and activist who volunteers with the RGV Welcome Committee and Witness at the Border. Tom retired after nearly forty years working for JP Morgan, but was inspired by a visit to a refugee camp in Greece to put his corporate skills to use on behalf of migrants. Among other things, he tracks the Department of Homeland Security flights for deportation, expulsion, or “lateral flights” that move migrants from one part of the border to another. Fr. Louie and Fr. Brian share from their recent experience encountering migrants who had crossed the border near El Paso, but then were flown a thousand miles away to Brownsville to be processed. What they thought was going to be the start of their weekend, turned into a frantic night of surveying about seventy migrants who were left to sleep on the street outside the local bus station. They end the episode pitching an Ignatian Camino to Spain for the summer of…2024? Who’s interested??

 

Reflection from Scripture: 

“Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7

 

Questions before listening to the episode:

  • Browse this website for some quick immigration statistics. What is one statistic that surprised you? Why?
  • Statistics can lead to overgeneralizations of others based on broad categories. What is an experience that you have had getting to know someone where you were able to see beyond generalizations?
  • Have you ever taken a pilgrimage or visited an important religious site? Describe the experience and its impact on you. If not, look up a popular pilgrimage destination and describe its importance for people.

 

Questions after listening to the episode:

  • In this episode, Tom shares about his work uncovering and publicizing data about the movement of migrants. What are some of the things his work reveals? Why is it important to make this kind of data public?
  • What is a lateral flight and why are they being put into place? What are some of the consequences of lateral flights that Fr. Brian and Fr. Louie share from their experience at the bus station?
  • For Tom’s own faith, it’s important to have examples of people who are dedicated to justice. Who are some of the examples he gives? Who are some examples from your own life?

Episode 6: “Advocacy” with Sr. Tracey Horan, SP, from the Kino Border Initiative

Sr. Tracey Horan, SP, is the Associate Director of Education and Advocacy for the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, AZ. Kino is a binational program that includes a shelter and soup kitchen for migrants in Nogales, Senora, and education and encounter programs, along with advocacy outreach in both the U.S. and Mexico. Sr. Tracey shares the challenges and hopes from Kino’s initiatives to advocate for immigration reform. She offers examples of how experiences of students coming to visit the border or hearing migrant’s stories helps to humanize the migrant experience and reshape the way people think about the issue. 

Fr. Louie and Fr. Brian share their own joys and frustrations (mostly frustrations…only frustrations??) with their attempts at advocacy phone calls with the staff of our representatives in Congress. And they talk about what it’s like to be surrounded by pregnant women in a migrant shelter demanding help. Not something a pair of young priests are used to facing! But the migrants are their own best advocates!

 

Reflection from Scripture: 

“When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matthew 10:19-20

 

Questions before listening to the episode:

  • What’s a social concern that you have and why is it important to you? How could you raise awareness about this concern?
  • Who are your representatives in Congress? Look up their stances on an issue that is important to you. Describe their stances.
  • Have you ever taken an immersion trip? Describe the experience and the impact it had on you.

 

Questions after listening to the episode:

  • In this episode, Fr. Brian and Fr. Louie talk about the migrants being their own best advocates. What does this mean? What obstacles prevent their voices from being heard?
  • Sr. Tracey describes the Revolucionarios. Who are they? What do they do? And why is Sr. Tracey inspired by them?
  • Sr. Tracey tells a story about a student who, after hearing some stories from migrants, changed his perspective on migration. With all the rhetoric and political division surrounding migration, why is it important to share human stories?

Episode 7: “Friendship in Ministry” with Fr. Scott Santarosa, SJ, from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in San Diego, CA

Fr. Scott Santarosa, SJ, is the former provincial of the Jesuits West Province and newly installed pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in San Diego, CA. Fr. Scott has become a fast friend to Fr. Louie and Fr. Brian after visiting the Rio Grande Valley early in the year and then helping to host them on a visit to El Paso, TX, where he spent part of his sabbatical. He talks about how he’s gone from a childhood in Sacramento, to a love for Latino ministry, to his first assignment on the border. And he shares the consolation he experienced just taking out the trash at a migrant shelter after years spent working behind a desk as Provincial.

Reflecting on other friends in ministry, Fr. Louie and Fr. Brian give thanks for the Mercy Sisters and IHM Sisters who regularly minister in the same migrant shelters. And they give a shout-out to their newest friend in ministry, Jules, their Toyota Sienna. They had a lot of hoops to jump through to get her into Mexico, but she’s been worth the wait!

 

Reflection from Scripture: 

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Mt. 18:20

 

Questions before listening to the episode:

  • What activities do you and your friends do together? How do those activities strengthen your relationships?
  • Recall a time when a friend helped you to complete a difficult task or project. Describe the experience and the impact their help had on you.
  • If you had six months to do whatever you wanted, where would you go? What would you do and why?

 

Questions after listening to the episode:

  • What activities do the Mercy Sisters and IHM Sisters do with the migrants at Casa del Migrante as described by Fr. Brian and Fr. Louie? If you were to visit the shelter, what is a game or activity that you could do with a group of migrant children?
  • Fr. Scott describes the role of the Church on the border as being a “welcome mat.” What does he mean by that and what examples does he give?
  • At the end of the conversation Fr. Scott, Fr. Louie and Fr. Brian talk about the importance of celebration, even in the midst of difficulties. What does this idea mean to you? Why is celebration such an important part of life and how can it help when life gets particularly difficult?
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Brian Strassburger, SJ

bstrassburgersj@thejesuitpost.org   /   All posts by Brian

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