Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Field Hand

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Field Hand

Article excerpt

AT THIS YEAR'S MAY 1 MARCH IN SUPPORT OF IMMIGRANTS' rights in Orlando, Florida--the largest demonstration in the city's history--a group of undocumented workers, recently arrived from Oaxaca, Mexico, approached Sister Ann Kendrick, one of the march's organizers. Each held a couple of crumpled dollar bills in his hands, and in Spanish they offered their thanks to Kendrick and gave their few dollars for her ministry.

Kendrick, cofounder of the Office for Farmworker Ministry in Apopka, Florida, recalls it as one of the times she has realized that all her years of formal theological education can never compare to the knowledge of God she has gained by being part of this community of impoverished, powerless immigrants. "They have evangelized me," she says. "They have to trust in God's bounty because they have nothing else."

And sometimes even God's bounty seems in jeopardy. In the weeks leading up to the rallies, government crackdowns on undocumented immigrants increased. When rumors spread that agents might be targeting church services, local parishes reported significantly lower attendance at Mass.

"This is a broken system, and it's breaking people," Kendrick says of U.S. policy on immigration. "There is no current track for poor immigrants to come to this country legally and work." To obtain legal entry, one has to have money or an immediate relative who is a citizen or permanent resident. That means countless desperate people will risk crossing the U.S. border illegally for the chance at a better life.

Kendrick's path to ministry in the farmworker community was part chance and part providence. She was a sophomore in college when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The Second Vatican Council was turning Catholicism upside down, and she struggled with all the big questions of God, justice, and her experience of the sacred in the world. She was impressed by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the founders of Trinity University, an all-women's school in Washington, D.C., where she majored in Spanish. "They inspired us to be leaders in the world," she says, and consequently she answered a call to a vocation in the congregation.

Kendrick was teaching Latin American literature at the University of Maryland when she decided to make a career change, going to Spanish Harlem in New York and joining the Summer in the City program run by Msgr. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.