Protests and threats at the University of Missouri took place this year just as we began a Busy Student Retreat at their Newman Center. It was a critical, yet graced time to connect, pray, and dialogue with students. One young woman I chatted with during a walk around campus told me she’s from Paris. Little did either of us know that less than a week later, terrorists would attack her home city.
How can we grow in respect for the diversity of cultures and beliefs in our world when such fear is generated? As people demand that our borders be closed to refugees, we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.” We need his peace and justice perhaps more than ever. Cardinal Luis Tagle of the Philippines has said, “I listen to the stories [of refugees] and I ask myself ‘where is humanity? Why are human beings making it difficult for other human beings just to move out of an unpleasant situation to look for a better future?’”
Creating connections is crucial. Ursuline students in Austria have collected gifts for some of the thousands of refugees now in their country, hoping also to connect the Christian and Muslim cultures. Students at Ursuline Academy in Dedham, Massachusetts are raising money to support these Austrian “sister students” in their projects. As we remember Mary, Joseph and Jesus who were themselves refugees, we build Peace by strengthening our bonds as one family of God’s people.