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Jessie Fenton
Reflections from our Chief Mission Officer

I love the story of Juan Diego and the Virgen de Guadalupe. Juan Diego was a poor indigenous campesino minding his own business when the Virgen appeared to him with a message and a mission. The Virgen calms Juan Diego with her assurances that indeed she is the Virgen, his mother who loves and cares for him, and lets him in on her dream, a Church that would be open to all her children where she could offer comfort and help. She then asks Juan Diego for his help in making this dream come true.

She asks Juan Diego to go to the bishop and ask him to build a new Church.  Juan Diego rightly asks how can this be?  A poor campesino talking with the bishop? Will the bishop open the door and grant an audience? Will the bishop believe that the Virgen sent him? Is this possible? From an insignificant campesino with strong faith flows the miracles of roses blooming in the desert, the image of the indigenous Virgen of Guadalupe imprinted on Juan Diego’s tilma, and a new Church built with doors open to all regardless of race or socioeconomic class.

We begin Advent this week, a time to prepare for Christmas, a season of repentance, turning once again to acknowledge Emmanuel, that God is with us.  Advent offers us the opportunity to see a new Christ’s presence, to receive Christ again in our hearts, and to hear Christ’s invitation to build a Church where all can experience Christ’s love and mercy.  In the cold and darkness of December, in our troubled and divisive world, God sends his Son, our companion Jesus, to walk with us, guide us, and invite us to help with his mission of being a Church where all are included and loved.

It has been fun walking the halls of several of our Cristo Rey schools these past months.  Being in our schools is always a Christmas experience. It is clear that Christ is alive in the inclusive love that embodies our schools. In this Advent season, let us turn again to Christ, to see His presence and hear His invitation to come and help him build a Church open to all so that his love can comfort and embrace all.  Let us continue the mission of Cristo Rey walking with Christ to help build His kingdom and thanking God for the invitation to do so.
 - Fr. Jim Gartland, S.J.

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