Most of the delegates attending the National V Encuentro conference arrived by plane, or by car if they lived locally enough.
Not Antonio Mendez and José, who walked nearly 30 miles from Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral in Dallas to Grapevine, Texas, in time for the conference’s closing Mass. The two are looking to raise awareness of immigration issues.
Despite the very rainy and “not good” weather that plagued the Dallas area on Saturday, the pair were able to safely complete the walk without any major issues. They walked to the National V Encuentro, a meeting of Hispanic and Latino Catholics from throughout the United States. Mendez told CNA that he was inspired to do this walk in part by the recent controversy over family separations at the U.S. border.
"You have families struggling, (and they are) separated all over the country,” said Mendez. “Children, suffering. Who's going to take care of that?”
He felt the walk was a way of showing people that, “You have worth, you can do something, to make people (pay) attention and take care of that.”
Before the pilgrimage, the pair did not know each other. They met when Mendez asked at a Mass at the Cathedral if anyone would be able to provide him with a ride or assistance with the trek. José (who has asked that CNA not use his last name) offered his car, and then asked if he could join as well.
This pilgrimage was similar to one Mendez does each year prior to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ annual immigration Mass. That pilgrimage takes three days, and consists of Mendez walking 47 miles from his home parish in Orange County to the Cathedral in Los Angeles. He does this to honor those who were unable to safely migrate to the United States.
The pair met with Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles shortly after arriving at the Gaylord Texan resort, where they had a brief chat.
Afterwards, Gomez told CNA that he feels the United States needs to make concrete moves on reforming its immigration policy, and that they were a symbol of how important the immigration issue is at this time.
“Antonio and Jose, coming from Dallas to Fort Worth to be with us here at the Encuentro is a reminder to all of us of the importance of the immigration issue at this time in our country,” said Gomez.
“They are very good Catholics, and the only thing they want to do is walk, praying that our elected officials, and all people in the United States, understand the importance of the immigrants that are in our country.”
Gomez said that he is continuing to pray that Congress is able to come up with a solution for the problems related to immigration currently in the United States. This spring, Congress was unable to reach a compromise on various measures, including the DREAM Act as well as the construction of a border wall.
“We can do it,” said Gomez.
“We are always praying for that and for them to understand how important it is for so many people that already are participating for the common good of our country.”