“We are two different races,” the man with the bronze skin and glossy black hair told me in perfect (albeit accented) English, “but we can come together through events like today’s.”
His name is Luis. He and a friend, who was also of Central American ancestry, had been speaking Spanish just before I interrupted them to voice my pleasure at marching beside them. Like most North Americans, my Spanish is non-existent, and so I asked the chattering men sitting beside me on the yellow school bus if either of them spoke English. Luis immediately switched gears and engaged me in discussion while his friend listened on, likely without much understanding.
Two hours earlier Luis and I, along with about 1,000 others, had marched from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to the Queen of Angels parish, almost three miles in sweltering heat. We marched behind Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who, in full vestments, carried a heavy, gold monstrance. A monstrance exists for one purpose only — to hold the Eucharist — the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to be with us to the end of the age as the Bread of Life.
June 10 was the Feast of Corpus Christi (the body of Christ), and Bishop Rhoades put Fort Wayne “on the map” by hosting the longest Corpus Christi procession in North America on that day. The cathedral emptied out onto South Calhoun under an unrelenting sun as almost 30 Knights of Columbus, priests, religious and the bishop led a holy parade to our first stop, Headwaters Park. There we worshipped, fully exercising rights guaranteed us by the First Amendment of the federal Constitution and our under-appreciated Indiana Constitution: “All people shall be secured in the natural right to worship ALMIGHTY GOD, according to the dictates of their own consciences.”
Luis and his silent seat companion probably value this constitutional bulwark as much as any of us. After viewing “For Greater Glory” in the same week as meeting Luis, I must confess a heightened respect for our southern neighbors.
“For Greater Glory” is a cinematic tour de force that tells the true story of a Catholic rebellion against an anti-Christian, socialist federal government that attempted to de-Catholicize Mexico some 85 years ago. Andy Garcia portrays a military gentleman imbued with boundless honor who is willing to make the greatest sacrifice to ensure that his countrymen enjoy the rights of conscience and freedoms of religion that we too often take for granted.
After speaking with Luis, marching with Luis, worshipping with Luis and understanding more of Luis’ history I find if difficult to agree with those who view Luis and his “different race” as a threat to North America. Could it instead be that our faithful, family-affirming, humble southern neighbors can help us overfed and overly-pampered descendants of white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants find our way back to the first principles that were of utmost import to our own founding generations?
The cry of Luis’ relatives who stood up to Mexican Marxists was “íViva Cristo Rey!” Translation: Long Live Christ the King. Bishop Kevin, like the Christian patriots depicted in “For Greater Glory,” led us in three chants of “íViva Cristo Rey!” at the conclusion of the Corpus Christi procession. None returned the shout of íViva! with more zeal then the golden-skinned in our midst. It is a battle cry that rightfully fills them with pride and for all of the right reasons. Pride in the name of freedom. Pride in the name of love.
After our worship at Headwaters Park, Bishop Rhoades led Luis, my family and hundreds of others across the newly opened Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge. The symbolism was not lost on me. Yes, Luis, we may very well be “two different races,” but we can follow Christ the King to be a nation that judges, not by the color of skin, but by the content of character.
You showed that character when you warmly invited me and my family to come worship with your family at St. Patrick’s parish, where the Catholic Hispanic community is headquartered in the Fort. I will do just that, my new friend.