From Guatemala to Brooklyn, New York

(Migrants journeying to New York)

The Redemptorists of the Parish Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Brooklyn search for new ways to be “Missionaries of Hope” to the most abandoned and needy.  Among these are our migrant parishioners from México and Central America. 

One of the outreach gestures of the Parish is the Eucharist on the first Sunday of each month at midnight for young men and women from Guatemala, most of whom are under 30 years of age.

This unusual schedule is because three years ago, representatives of the Charismatic Community of the Assumption of Our Lady, an extension of the same community in Sololá, Guatemala, approached the Parish in search of how they could celebrate the Sunday Eucharist.  The Community unites young Guatemalan migrant women and mostly men who are restaurant delivery persons.  The members of this community, which number over 300 and live within the boundaries of the Parish, cannot celebrate the Eucharist on Sundays during the day because of their busy work schedules.  If you walk the streets of our Parish, practically all the delivery persons on motorcycles and motorized bicycles are members of this community. 

The community rents a hall near the Church, and several participate in the Parish´s formation programs.  This year 45 of them received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

The community’s organizational structure is impressive, with an elected directive council of 16 members who meet regularly and attend to the needs of Guatemalans already present in our Parish territory and other recent arrivals. The sub-committees are varied and include a youth group.  Father James Gilmour, C.Ss.R., our pastor, is the community’s chaplain.

The monthly Eucharist is lively with active participation, beautiful music, and internet streaming transmission so that their relatives in Guatemala can see them and be assured they are well cared for by their fellow Guatemalans and the Church.

The Guatemalan migrants of our Parish faced various challenges and experiences, both in their home country and on their journey to Brooklyn, New York. Guatemala is one of the most populous countries in Central America and has a long history of political and economic instability, poverty, violence, and corruption. These factors often force Guatemalan citizens to migrate in search of better opportunities, safety, and security.

The journey to the United States, often traveling through Mexico, is one in which our Guatemalan brothers and sisters are exposed to dangerous conditions in which they are vulnerable to violence, exploitation, and human trafficking. They also risk arrest and deportation by Mexico and the US authorities. Once in the US, they face further challenges, including language barriers, discrimination, and a difficult path to legal status.

(Father Ruskin Piedra, C.Ss.R., founder, and director of the St. John Neumann Immigration Office, OLPH, Brooklyn)

Our migration office, led by Fr. Ruskin Piedra, C.Ss.R., founder, and director, with the collaboration of Frs. Karl Esker, C.Ss.R., Frank Skelly, C.Ss.R., and Brother Augustus J. Riviere, C.Ss.R. is kept busy with the legal processes of many of our migrant population, including our Guatemalan brothers and sisters.

Fr. Manuel Rodríguez Delgado, C.Ss.R.

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