Column: Invisible no longer: Exploring immigration through film

by Father Pat Murphy, CS

In a few weeks we will be celebrating that great time of the year that we call Thanksgiving.

Although this feast day is not an official “holy day,” I think that for many of us who gather around the table of abundance there is a sense of holiness as we break bread with our loved ones. It is also a time to give thanks for those who ventured across the ocean and arrived on the shores of this new land that would eventually become known as the United States of America.

In the history books, we often refer to this adventurous group of people as the Pilgrims but, in a sense, they were also immigrants. And, in fact, if we judged them by today’s standards, some might even call them “illegal aliens” or “undocumented immigrants.”

In the end, it does not matter what we call those who celebrated the first Thanksgiving here in the United States, but let’s face it — without them risking their lives to come here, without visas or passports, not one of us would be here enjoying all the freedoms this country has to offer.

Consequently, the feast of Thanksgiving should remind us that we always have been — and continue to be — a country of immigrants. And, of course, the Catholic Church mirrors this diversity in its makeup. Although I have no doubt that this diversity is a special blessing for our country, at the same time it also remains a challenge for us to go beyond mere emotions as we seek out ways to have civil conversations about such a hot topic.

It was this kind of discussion that brought together several groups to col- laborate on a unique project we are calling “Invisible No Longer — Exploring the Immigration Issue through Film.”

It is our hope that in film, we may be able to put a more human face on the immigrant issue in an attempt to go beyond the talk show rhetoric that so often fills our airwaves. Therefore, we invite you to a free night at the movies to help us explore this issue through film.

On Nov. 15, starting at 7:30 p.m. at University of Missouri-Kansas City (Royal Hall, Room 111, 800 E. 52nd St.), we will be showing and discussing two short movies entitled: 1) “The Invisible Mexicans of Deer County” and 2) “The Invisible Chapel.”

We believe that both of these films will help us to view the immigration issue through a new lens and, hopefully, with new eyes.

In addition, we are blessed to have with us Juan Carlos Frey, the director of these films, to guide us on this journey. If you would like to join us for this special evening, please call our office at (913) 281-6644 to reserve your seats.

In the meantime, may God bless you, and I do hope to see you at the movies.

Father Pat Murphy is the archdiocesan animator for the office of Hispanic ministry.

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