A FRANCISCAN FRIAR FROM BUFFALO NY
Instead of covering the Pope's speech in the Congressional Chamber today, I watched it with thousands of people in a ticketed area in front of the Capital. When the Pope came to the Speakers Balcony and greeted the crowd with a happy "Buenos Dias" the crowd roared "buenos dias" back. The joy was electric.
A woman cuddling a two week old baby passed me with a smile of total contentment. "She has started her life with a blessing from the Pope" she said.
I joined a conversation between a Franciscan monk from upperstate New York Fr. "Jud" Weiksnar and two Catholic activists from New Jersey. They were thrilled by the Pope's presence and positive words, hoping that spirit might pass on to Congress.
The robes of the friar brought back early memories of my youth in Santa Barbara CA when we lived on Puesta del Sol, a winding street behind the Santa Barbara Mission -- the Queen of the Missions (and the only one with two towers). Next to it was a grand campus of a Franciscan seminary and almost daily, Franciscans in their robes and rope belts (I'm sure it's called something else) would stroll by our house on an afternoon walk. The bells of the mission were always a pleasurable sound on Sundays.
FATHER SERRA BECOMING A SAINT - MEMORIES OF MY CHILDHOOD IN SANTA BARBARA CA
Also the canonization of Father Serra by the Pope yesterday also gave me a touch of home. He founded the Santa Barbara mission and I always pause to greet his statue in Statuary Hall in the Capital when I pass through between the House and the Senate. My favorite avenue in Santa Barbara along our "riviera" is called APS - Alameda Padre Serra. Amazing to think he is now a Saint. And that it was so controversial. I always remembered him as the protector of the Indians from abuse by the Spanish soldiers and settlers; Serra insisted that the Spanish Presidio in Santa Barbara be built at a distance from the mission above in the hills, each with their own chapels. That was clear to me. What wasn't quite clear in elementary school mission history was from where the Americans came who docked at the Santa Barbara wharf to buy hides. We had years of California and Mission history, little early American history and almost nothing on the civil war.
LATINOS FROM MINNESOTA - WE'RE TO CALL OURSELVES 'MIGRANTS' NOW, NOT 'UNDOCUMENTED'
Resting by the (at times really stinky) pond in front of the Capital, a group of some 20 Latinos suddenly sat around me. They all wore T-shirts on which was written in Spanish and English "Social Justice Ministry of Minnesota" and a quote from the Pope: "Jesus, Mary and Joseph knew what it meant to leave their country and become migrants" Pope Francis
Leaders of the group was instructing them (in Spanish) what to say on their pending appointments with their MN Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and their Congressmen Keith Ellison (the first Muslim in Congress) and Erik Paulsen - a 4th term Lutheran Republican. Since I am a reporter, since they voluntarily plunked down around me while I was cooling my burning tootsies and since I understand, speak and write in Spanish, I listened in.
"From now on you are to refer to yourselves as "migrantes" - "migrants," the leader told them. "Don't use the term immigrant or undocumented".
"The term undocumented isn't good now that so many of us (illegal immigrants) have drivers licenses and other documents", explained the lady sittiing next to me. But she decided she would refer to herself as "madre" mother since she has three children. They all agreed that the term "Migrant" is more positive and general and is used by the Pope.
And there is no such thing as an "illegal migrant".