Breaking Burritos, Becoming Whole – “I sat with joy yesterday. His name was Abali, a refugee from Cameroon.”
Sitting, standing, walking, talking, eating with joy is what happened at the Vincentian Family Gathering in Denver, Colorado, on the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. The joy of the Gospel, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” resonated with all who attended the liturgy as we moved from the table of the Eucharistic liturgy to the picnic tables outside of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church, singing “When in our music God is glorified, and adoration leaves no room for pride, it is as though the whole creation cried Alleluia.”
The Denver Vincentian Family consists of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian priests and brothers), the Sisters of Charity and their Associates, the Center for Spirituality at Work, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers. All of us gathered on this special feast day with the St. Elizabeth Community as we celebrated our Vincentian charism through prayer and song, as we connected with and learned from one another, and as we collaborated in seeking to serve the presence of Christ in those who are poor. The day began with 9am liturgy during which all the branches of the family participated. Then we joined the folks who had already lined up in the alley for the daily Sandwich Line. Together we went through the line and shared burritos, fruit, cookies and lemonade. Together we shared stories.
And it was that simple. It was simply sharing the table of fellowship as the human family. “Gentleness was nearly a requirement for the day and that’s one of the reasons it was so lovely. I think we too often underestimate the act of gentle ways – but one of the ways we are reminded of that is when we come together to break bread (or burritos).”
“Kenny is a chatty young man who said he couldn’t shake Denver, no matter where else he tried. Vie is a woman who cannot remove the stamps from her hands as she is a frequent visitor to the women’s prison. In very different ways, the two have been marked for life – riveted by relationship.”
Isn’t that what Pope Francis challenges us to do? To pay attention to those in our very midst, to enter into relationship with the immigrant, the widow, the orphan, the one most abandoned, to share our resources and to care for one another and for the earth? Speaking at St. Patrick parish in Washington, DC, Pope Francis said, “How good it is for us to pray together. How good it is to encounter one another in this place where we see one another as brothers and sisters, where we realize that we need one another.”
And the beauty of the day was in the simplicity of these relationships, if only for an hour. Relationships that we carry with us as we return to our daily life.
“The man with the grey shirt did not say a word. He chose not to share his name. But he stayed. At first it was awkward, but everyone in the circle got used to it. He was part of the circle. We were part of the circle. That was enough.”
Mary Frances Jaster and Sr. Jennifer Gordon, SCL
Colorado Vincentian Volunteers