September 12, 2023
It’s a joy working with the guest farm workers every year. If every parishioner could see what I see every time I take food & clothing to them at their camp, they would see our beloved Jesus Christ in these men that sacrifice so much for their families. Even though their hands are calloused and rough looking, they hand me a bottle of water with such tender care. Their faces are sunburned and eyes red from working in the tobacco fields, but their smiles light up my heart. During harvest time their back muscles are screaming with pain, but they are ready to help me carry heavy boxes of produce from my car.
If I had a chance, I would give them the world because in a way they give me their world when we are together.
They know sacrifice as our Lord did and they show such love like our Lord shows us every day.
March 29, 2023
The first guest farm workers arrived in the area in early February. We had freezing temperatures when they got off the bus. Some covered themselves with a blanket from head to toe. Mexico has warm temperatures at this time of year, so the workers aren’t used to such cold temperatures.
Luis and Efraín from a camp about 20 minutes from St. Bernadette, were the first workers to contact me. They asked if we could pick them up on Sunday so they could attend the 5:00 pm Mass. Absolutely, I could.
When they arrived at the church, they asked to take the bread and wine to the altar during the Offertory in thanksgiving for arriving safely from their homes.
They have great faith and always place God first in their lives.
September 19, 2022
I’m starting to hear the guys making plans for their return trip back home so it must be close to saying goodbye to them again. Some are leaving mid-October (those that work with only tobacco), others mid-November (broccoli workers from Dupree) and the rest in December (die-hards like Luis from Closed Gate).
Two things happened during this year that are memorable:
In the previous years, when the Sunday meals started, the workers would ask if I needed help in setting up the tables and chairs and I would decline any help because I had volunteers coming to do that for me. Then the workers would go into the Gathering area and wait for Mass to begin.
This year was different, they came into the social hall and started pulling out tables and chairs and I didn’t have the heart to decline their help. They even placed the tablecloths on the tables with great care. When we had free haircuts for them, I noticed a list of names on the clinic table. One of the workers had started a list so whoever wanted a haircut would place his name on the list rather than stand in line for their turn. Then I understood, the workers are owning this event. They are parishioners of St. Bernadette, and this is what parishioners do; they organize and help. They don’t want to be treated as guests, they are parishioners, and they belong here. A lot of them have been parishioners for 24 years; more than probably many of us. They have made a statement and we hear them.
The second thing that happened during this growing season was more evidence of the Holy Spirit engrained in the Migrant Ministry.
I used to worry about not having enough drivers, shirts, etc. for the workers but not anymore. It was the last Sunday meal for this year, and I needed one more driver. I was standing in the gathering area after the 9:30 Mass on Sunday and someone came up to me and said she was ready to drive. Evidently, Linda and I had talked about the Migrant Ministry previously and I had told her to check back with me when she was ready to drive. She was willing to drive that day and when I told her the camp where she would go was difficult to find, she knew exactly where it was because she lived about 10 minutes from there. She asked what time was pick-up for the return trip and I said a volunteer was offering free haircuts so maybe around 6:40 pm. She said I’m a professional barber and I’d like to cut their hair as well. Oh my gosh, I was stunned that day. This happens to me often when I’m working with the Migrant Ministry, and I know the Holy Spirit is working through us for the migrant workers.
July 27, 2022
Thank you, Holy Name of Jesus, and Raleigh Diocese folks, for a delicious meal!
May 17, 2022
Fr. Fernando made my day this past Sunday at the 5:00 pm Mass! I had asked him to acknowledge the farmworkers’ return to Mass at St. Bernadette after being away because of the pandemic and he went beyond a simple welcome back.
He asked the farmworkers to step to the foot of the altar for a special blessing and expressed his gratitude for the work they do to support their families. The parishioners applauded them, and the workers returned to their pews with a smile; their hearts were touched, and it meant a lot to them. I was so excited that I missed the opportunity of a group photo.
This is one of the reasons I love being part of this ministry. I have the privilege of seeing the Holy Spirit at work through each of us when we reach out to the farmworkers through donations, driving them to Mass, volunteering at the clinic table during Sunday dinners, or just an acknowledgement that they are not invisible but part of our community of St. Bernadette.
May the Holy Spirit continue to dwell in the Migrant Ministry!
March 22, 2022
The 2022 growing season has begun and the first farmworkers have arrived.
Four of the Barbour Store camp farmworkers were notified last December that the rancher would be discontinuing growing tobacco due to health reasons. The 4 workers are currently working at Tarheel Nursery in Angier. When they were working at Barbour Store they were lent to this nursery after the tobacco ended for the season. The guys didn’t mind because they were treated very well by the nursery owner. The owner is a man of faith, and it shows in the blessings the guys have received.
- Their new camp has a brand-new clothes washer indoors
- Brand-new mattresses
- A large wall heater
- Each bedroom has a window air conditioner
- They have a car in the carport for work use only
- The shower and toilet are in separate rooms
- Nice kitchen table and chairs
- Their kitchen is stocked with a few pans and dinnerware
- A working refrigerator and stove
- Two overstuffed chairs
- Horses in a pasture across the way which lends to a serene setting
- For now, they work from 9am to 5pm Monday – Friday and Saturday until noon. I’m sure as the warm weather sets in, their hours will change.
They feel like they are living in paradise. We’ll see where Raymundo and the rest of the guys will be located when they arrive in a few months.
Santos from Wagstaff arrived a few days ago and he looks great. He’s the only one at the camp since the rest of the guys can’t cross into the U.S. until they show evidence of having received 2 vaccinations.
Please pray the farmworkers continue to receive God’s graces through the Migrant Ministry.
December 1, 2021
We are at the end of the broccoli growing season and the last farmworker will be returning to his family at the end of this week. It must be such a joyful time for them to see their families again after 10 months. I recall a news clip showing families in the U.S. reuniting with their families after being locked down because of the pandemic. The families were joyful and had tears of happiness. This is probably how it feels for the farmworkers every year. They must feel desperation when they are preparing for their trip to the U.S. once again, but they understand they need to be apart from their families to sustain them.
The Migrant Ministry volunteers exist at St. Bernadette as instruments of God’s infinite mercy to support our brothers who are our parishioners. Some of the farm workers have been coming to St. Bernadette for over 24 years and some are ushers at the 5:00 pm Mass.
Let’s pray we can bring the farmworkers to Sunday Mass next year; they certainly miss visiting and hearing the WORD. It gives them strength to continue working through the tough times at the height of the season when it is overwhelmingly hot and humid, and they can’t seem to keep up with the rancher’s demands.
This growing season was full of activity with volunteers cooking meals; donating, and transporting clothes washers; sorting, and distributing food; donating clothing, and ready to volunteer whenever possible. It warms my heart when someone asks me if I need anything for the Migrant Ministry. Prayers are always welcome.
Some of the workers will not be returning to their current camps, they could not withstand the green tobacco disease, the loneliness, the harshness this work entails. The rest will return for another growing season and know St. Bernadette parishioners will be ready to envelope them in fellowship and understanding of their need to be here.
diciembre 1, 2021
Estamos al final de la temporada de cultivo de brócoli y el último trabajador agrícola regresará con su familia al final de esta semana. Debe ser un momento muy alegre para ellos volver a ver a sus familias después de 10 meses. Recuerdo un clip de noticias que muestra a familias en los Estados Unidos reuniéndose con sus familias después de haber sido encerradas debido a la pandemia. Las familias estaban alegres y tenían lágrimas de felicidad. Esto es probablemente lo que se siente para los trabajadores agrícolas cada año. Deben sentir desesperación cuando se preparan para su viaje a los Estados Unidos una vez más, pero entienden que necesitan estar separados de sus familias para mantenerlos.
Los voluntarios del Ministerio De Trabajadores existen en Santa Bernardita como instrumentos de la infinita misericordia de Dios para apoyar a nuestros hermanos que son nuestros feligreses. Algunos de los trabajadores agrícolas han estado viniendo a St. Bernadette por más de 24 años y algunos son ujieres en la misa de las 5:00 pm.
Oremos para que podamos llevar a los trabajadores agrícolas a la misa dominical el próximo año; ciertamente extrañan visitar y escuchar la PALABRA. Les da fuerza para continuar trabajando en los tiempos difíciles en el apogeo de la temporada cuando hace mucho calor y humedad, y parece que no pueden mantenerse al día con las demandas del ranchero.
Esta temporada de crecimiento estuvo llena de actividad con voluntarios cocinando comidas; donando y transportando lavadoras de ropa; clasificando y distribuyendo alimentos; donando ropa, y listo para ser voluntario siempre que sea posible. Mi corazón se llena de gusto cuando alguien me pregunta si necesito algo para el Ministerio de Trabajadores. Las oraciones son siempre bienvenidas.
Algunos de los trabajadores no regresarán a sus campos actuales, no pudieron soportar la enfermedad del tabaco verde, la soledad, la dureza que conlleva este trabajo. El resto regresará para otra temporada de crecimiento y sabrá que los feligreses de Santa Bernadette estarán listos para envolverlos en compañerismo y comprensión de su necesidad de estar aquí.