Andres Ramírez (pictured above) a farmworker from Oaxaca, Mexico, has only been in the United States for fifteen days. His face only reflects happiness even though his job working in the farm fields of North Carolina can be difficult and more than 2,000 miles separate him from his family. Ramirez is grateful to have his new job in America and like many of his co-workers doesn’t complain about his daily work.
While Sunday is often the day for rest, this past Sunday, Aug. 11, was different for Ramirez and many other farmworkers. All of them were special guests at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Newton Grove during the VIII Annual Catholic Encounter for Farm Workers, coordinated by the Office of Evangelization and Discipleship.
“I really like to attend this Encounter,” said Mr. Ramírez. “Everyone made me feel welcome. The bishop, priests and deacons are great people, and they can guide us and give orientation to each of us.”
During the morning, the farmworkers had soccer and volleyball tournaments, and were entertained with contests games and prizes, Catholic music and food for all. Everybody was able to take a break and enjoy the festive atmosphere. A group of young volunteers from St. Mary, Mother of the Church in Garner distributed free Mexican snow cones to all of participants.
The Divine Mercy Center at Our Lady of Guadalupe was transformed into a medical clinic and St. Katharine Drexel Hall into a service center offering haircuts, personal care items and clothing donated by parishes in the diocese. Volunteers gave attendees bags full of cleaning supplies and other items.
Later, the winners of the soccer and volleyball tournaments received medals from the bishop. All of the farmworkers were taken back to their temporary homes, after a fun day full of spiritual and physical activities.
The event included opportunities for the sacrament of Reconciliation and catechesis and concluded with a Mass celebrated in the church by Bishop Zarama. During his homily, the bishop focused his comments on the reading of the day, Luke: 12:35-40. He asked the attendees what kind of motivation they had in their lives and talked about how brave immigrants are and the situations that many of them faced to be able to live here in North Carolina.
“Just as many of you had someone who accompanied them during the trip to the United States, look for someone to accompany here in the United States,” said Bishop Zarama. “Find someone who can be your godfather, your spiritual friend, who you can look for to go to pray the rosary.”