This past week I spent several days at the clergy theological study week. Bishop Vittorino Girardi of Costa Rica spoke on Christology.
Most of the more than eighty participating were Honduran diocesan priests and a few Honduran transitional deacons. Three bishops attended – Bishop Darwin Andino of Santa Rosa de Copán, Bishop Guy Charboneau of Choluteca (a Canadian), and Bishop Héctor García of Yoro (the only bishop in Honduras who is a Honduran diocesan priest).
A few of the participants were from other Latin American countries – Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico, but I was the only US citizen present.
I didn’t feel out of place because of my nationality, though I thought there might be a problem on Tuesday night when we went to watch the Honduras versus US soccer game. People were kidding me about this and I played along, noting that I would “win” no matter which team won.
The US scored first and I didn’t find myself jumping up and down. When Honduras scored Bishop Guy was the most enthusiastic supporter, jumping up and leading a cheer. The US won two to one – but I had no feeling of vindication. In fact, I felt a bit sad since Honduras played hard but lost.
Where do my loyalties lie?
In May before the beatification Mass for Monseñor Romero, they asked groups from various countries to make their presence known. I was with three US women religious who serve in El Salvador and Honduras and with an Italian religious who has been in El Salvador for many years. When the US was mentioned none of us made our presence known, but we did cheer when Honduras or El Salvador was mentioned.
Some call those who live in another country than their birth nation “ex-pats” – “ex-patriots”. They are not called migrants (though that’s what they are).
I don’t consider myself an ex-pat. I’m not here in Honduras as a US citizen. I am a US citizen with all its privileges and more. But that’s not my identity here. That’s why I have not registered with the US Embassy and have no plans to do it.
I am here as part of universal Church – a church which is “catholic,” which goes beyond borders.
That’s where my loyalties lie.
Or maybe I should say that my loyalties lie with the Church that is at the service of the poor – the church which is called to be poor, to be of the poor, and for the poor.
Years ago when some US folks here were fearing a military invasion before the 2009 coup, a friend asked me if I would leave if there were a military invasion.
I told him, “No.”
He said that that was what he expected.
I’m here. I’m part of the community where I live and of the church where I serve.
My loyalty lies with the poor.
In the last few decades I have become rooted in an understanding of Jesus as God who became flesh, who became incarnated among the poor.
If God is here in a special way, maybe I should be here.
Others will experience a call to be present with the poor elsewhere, but – as of now – this is where I sense the call.