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Br. Steve Herro's Blog


Br. Steve HerroBr. Steve Herro, O. Praem., professed solemn vows to the Community of St. Norbert Abbey in 1991. For several years, he headed the justice and peace ministry of St. Norbert Abbey and presently serves as Manager of Mission and Ministry, Catholic Charities USA, Alexandria, VA. His current ministry connects him to national Catholic issues and Church ministers throughout the country.

DISCLAIMER: This blog represents Br. Herro's own opinions and experiences. It does not represent an official position or opinion of neither of the organizations, St. Norbert Abbey nor Catholic Charities USA, nor of any of the organizations' members.

August 1, 2014
Entry #30: "How will you remember the summer of 2014?"

by Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem.

This has been the "summer of the unaccompanied youth" crisis. We have learned that there are upwards of 50,000 unaccompanied youth, mostly from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, who will be apprehended and temporarily housed in U.S. border security detention centers in 2014. A few memories will remain etched in my brain for some time.

Ella (name changed to respect her privacy) has one of the best attitudes of any person with whom I work. And she has been through a lot. In the early 1980s, her father was murdered in El Salvador because government rightists felt threatened by him. By the late 1980s, many of her family had fled to the United States. She spent several weeks this past June assisting at a Catholic Charities respite center in Texas, helping children repair their psyches after having been jammed in U.S. border security detention centers for up to weeks on the U.S.-Mexican border. After she returned, the two of us reviewed some office operations that had to be completed for the fourth quarter. As she apologized for being "behind" in her work, I simply replied that she had just returned from supplying human compassion and charity during a historic humanitarian crisis. Surely, we understood that the kids on the border and her own emotional wellbeing come first.

The second "aha" moment occurred in early July. Two of our Catholic Charities USA staff were hosting a number of our summer interns from Notre Dame, St. Vincent, and Bethlehem Universities on a tour of Catholic sites in northeast Washington, D.C., including the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. As you can imagine, many of the side chapels of the National Shrine dedicated to the patroness of the United States feature the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was the chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe that caused me the longest pause. If I could talk to the Patroness of the Americas today, what would we discuss? The teenager with the newborn Christ child was forced to flee her homeland because the powerful threatened the child’s very life; wait, are we talking the beginning of the common era in Palestine/Egypt or July 2014 in Mexico/Texas?

Those who ignore history are destined to repeat it.


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