By Trevor Thompson, Director Justice and Peace
I left my house on Sunday morning driving my white minivan northeast on Route 401 towards Louisburg. I volunteered to pick-up seasonal farm workers from their tucked-away camps off muddy dirt roads called “Country Boy Lane” and “Bubble Creek” and bring them to a 1pm Spanish liturgy at Our Lady of the Rosary. I met three other parishioners at a fairly new Food Lion outside of Wake Forest and headed north in a caravan.
Our first four stops yielded no farm workers taking up our offer. With Sunday sometimes a work day when inclement weather disrupts the work schedule during the week, two camps were working in the fields. The other two vacant camps had a significant number of men in town doing laundry and running errands.
We arrived at the next camp, three trailers surrounded by fields of lush-green, sun-grown brightleaf, a single elm tree, clothes lines strung in several directions, folding chairs, and a make-shift table with a barbeque grill. Out walk 8 men ready to go to Mass. Three of them came into my van. I don’t speak any Spanish. We nodded, smiled, and said some easy greetings. There was a good bit of silence as we drove down their lane and headed towards the church.
We arrived a little before 1pm to the church. Because it was the feast day of Corpus Christi, the community was finishing up adoration of the Blessed Sacrament before Mass was to begin. We walked into the church, which is a rented building south of downtown, and found our seat next to a family with two girls around the same age as my daughter. Mass unfolded in its consistent way despite being in a language not my own. As I received Christ’s body into my own, I felt a peculiar sense of solidarity with everyone gathered in this humble church in faith and love. As Deacon Pat challenged us during his homily, we are living out what Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” All together, no matter what language we speak, what land we call home, or what jobs we have, gathered around the table, we are the Body of Christ.
After Mass, we took the farm workers to the OLR Food Pantry where they were able to collect some miscellaneous food and clothing items, many of which St. Francis parishioners have donated. We headed back to the camps to drop off the men. My final image was of one of the guys I transported holding his bag of donated items on his porch. He turned towards me, smiled, and gave me a thumbs-up.