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Seeing Clearly: Jesus Meets Us Where We Are


Editor’s note: As part of FMS’ Lenten blog series, Executive Director Liz Hughes shares her reflection on the Catholic Day of Action with Dreamers and how that experience allowed her to see Christ more clearly.

In this Sunday’s gospel, the people yet again ask Jesus for a sign. “What sign can you show us for doing this?” In my own life, I can certainly relate to that need for a sign, for reassurance that I am on the path toward God. Reassurance that, with God’s guidance, we as a collective whole are seeing clearly. I believe, God; help my unbelief.

On Tuesday, I had the honor of attending the Catholic Day of Action with Dreamers in Washington, DC along with several members of the FMS community. Women religious, priests, brothers, and the laity joined in solidarity with the Dreamers, approximately 800,000 undocumented individuals who were brought to the United States as children. As Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ said, the Dreamers are the students in our classrooms; the parishioners in our churches; and the friends and colleagues who have invited us into their homes. While they had been protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), their status in the United States is now uncertain as President Trump has canceled DACA and the judicial and legislative branches continue to review options.

FMS Programs Manager Emily Norton, Executive Director Liz Hughes, and Former Board Member Jack McHale at the Catholic Day of Action with Dreamers in Washington, DC.

At the Day of Action, I was particularly touched by the witness of the generation before me. Dozens of people in their 60s, 70s, and beyond stood in solidarity to protect the young Dreamers. They locked arms and sang “We Shall Overcome” at the end of mass (at the invitation of a Dreamer himself). They prayed the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary on the Capitol lawn. Dozens were arrested. While our gathering of over two hundred comprised people all ages, I felt led by the witness of this generation.

As we left the rally, a colleague and I simultaneously stood in awe of the example we observed and wondered aloud why we saw comparably fewer young people present. We were surprised—and a bit disappointed—not to have seen more young professionals or university students.

We walked further away from the rally. It was then that I passed four high school girls in Catholic school uniforms, walking quickly toward the rally. They recognized the “I Stand with Dreamers” sign in my hand and smiled. One young woman said, “We’re coming; we’re coming.”

Indeed, they are coming. Passing the physical sign to their welcoming hands was the metaphoric sign I didn’t even realize I was seeking. A reminder of the way in which our youngest generation is indeed coming, emulating the example so powerfully shown by the mentors my generation admires. This week alone, we witnessed these four young women walking rapidly toward the rally; we witnessed the Dreamers themselves courageously sharing their stories; we witnessed the high school students from Parkland, Florida advocate their legislatures for policy change, and we witnessed our own FMS missioners and volunteers walk in solidarity with our sisters and brothers on the margins. Yes, they are coming.

And, yet again, Jesus patiently meets me where I am at, giving me the sign and reassurance that He knows I need. I believe, God; help my unbelief.

Reflection question: How has Jesus met you where you are at? How has God made God’s presence manifest to you in our world?

Liz is thrilled to lead FMS. It is an honor to partner with individuals living and serving in solidarity with individuals in economically poor communities. Liz’s own mission commitment was shaped through serving as a 4th grade teacher in Birmingham, Alabama with the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) and later as a teacher in a bilingual Catholic elementary school in Juticalpa, Honduras.

Liz comes to FMS from the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, where she served as the Director of the International Program for three years. Previously, she dedicated over a decade to serving in internationally focused positions with the U.S. government, including two years in Mexico City. Liz graduated with an M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame and a B.S in International Studies and Management from Boston College.

In her free time, Liz enjoys tutoring DC junior high students, learning languages, reading, exploring hidden gems of DC, traveling, retreats, and sharing time with family and friends. She is pictured here with her nephew, Benjamin!