Cultural Diversity: Rebuilding the Bridge

Wed, Jan 14th 2015 09:00 am
Milagros Ramos
Milagros Ramos

On Sunday, Jan. 18, the diocese will be celebrating a Mass at Blessed Trinity Church, 317 Leroy Ave., Buffalo, at 10:30 a.m., in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. All are welcome to come and join us!

The theme for this year's celebration is "Rebuilding the Bridge: Answering God's Call." The main celebrant will be Bishop Richard J. Malone and our guest homilist Rev. Brother Henry Fulmer, OFM, from the Diocese of Charleston, S.C.

The day will also mark the 50th anniversary of the shooting by a state trooper during a protest. The young African-American man, Jimmie Lee Jackson, was a catalyst to the marches that took place in Selma, Ala. That unfortunately led to Bloody Sunday but fortunately led to the voting rights of African-Americans in this country.

Fifty years later, we see some similarities but we also have seen great advances in relations and celebration of our cultural diversity. For the areas of advancement, we thank God. For greater growth, we need to continue our work for justice and peace in the manner that Dr. King has taught us. I am sure that he would be proud of the many young people from the various cultures who have taken to the streets in peaceful protest for the rights of those who are being treated unjustly in our society today.

So how is God calling us today as His children to rebuild the bridge? "Afterwards I said to them: 'You see the evil plight in which we stand; how Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been gutted with fire. Come; let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, so that we may no longer be an object of derision!' Then I explained to them how the favoring hand of my God had rested upon me, and what the king had said to me." Nehemiah 2:17-18.

Just as Nehemiah took this huge task, we are called again today to do the same. He gathered this oppressed community and rebuilt the wall around the city.

One example of someone who was building the bridge was Padre T.J. Martinez, SJ. He founded Houston's Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School. His smile was bright and very contagious. He loved everyone he encountered. In just six years he rebuilt a school that was in ruins for students who were financially challenged. He had no students, no teachers, and very little money. In 2009, he opened the school and today it's grown to over 500 students. Sadly this past November, the padre died of stomach cancer.

He is truly a saint in the eyes of many who had the privilege of knowing him. Padre T.J. raised over $22 million to fund the school, including a new Center for Mission and Ministry that houses a conference center, guest rooms and the new school chapel.

The Cristo Rey Model does not charge tuition. The bills are paid through a college prep program that integrates a paying job as part of the students' weekly curriculum.   

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