Main headline at CNS today, Tulsa Bishop Edward J. Slattery has proclaimed a diocesan shrine at a parish in his see city dedicated to Santo Toribio Romo, considered to be an unofficial patron of immigrants.
The idea came from a parishioner, Simone Navarro, shortly before Oklahoma’s immigration law — the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007 — went into effect last Nov. 1.
“I wanted a place where immigrants could pray in peace.”
Who is this saint?
Father Toribio Romo Gonzalez was martyred by Mexican federal troops in 1928 during the Cristero Wars, an uprising against Mexico‘s anti-Catholic government. It is said St. Toribio appears to many Mexican immigrants in the Sonoran Desert — which covers large parts of Arizona and California and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California — and assists them as they make their way north seeking work in the United States.
He and twenty-four others were canonized in 2000 by John Paul II for their role in resisting–without taking up arms–the anti-Catholic policies of Mexico’s federal government. The man was only twenty-eight, and had been a priest for seven years.
A NYT piece by Ginger Thompson relates the first “immigration miracle,” which are not officially accepted by the Church hierarchy:
(A)ccording to church lore, … a native of the neighboring state of Michoacán, remembered popularly only as José … had arrived at the border with no documents and no hope. Then a stranger appeared and offered him safe passage, a good meal and a decent job.
José asked how much it would cost to buy his American dream. The mysterious stranger asked only that José visit him sometime in Santa Ana de Guadalupe.
José made it to the States, then eventually came here to thank his generous coyote, as immigrant smugglers are called. People directed him to the small chapel on the hill, where a dumbfounded José learned that his coyote was a saint.
Bishop Slattery though, seems to endorse this spiritual support for his diocese. I say good for him. Our nation is stronger for our hard-working immigrants, legal or otherwise, who enrich our society by their labors, their culture, and their faith. Simone Navarro again:
We have no desire to displace anyone here or to take anyone’s job. We just want to contribute to the church and to society. I hope the shrine becomes a place of prayer where we can strengthen our faith and pray for our friends and family.