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Who is my neighbor?


Youth of the Missionary Childhood Association with their new baseball bats in Santa Clara, Cuba. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy

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As a seasoned traveler, I have come to expect the unexpected. Long lines are an opportunity to say an extra rosary. Flight delays give me time to read or people watch. Airplane take offs and landings rarely unnerve me; I read even through the bumpy ones. So why was it, that as I sat at the Miami airport in the wee hours of May 26 that I was a tad nervous? Perhaps it was because my destination was a place that had been shrouded in mystery for so long.

I was headed to Cuba.

Stories of revolution and rations, Communism and control, and government imposed Godlessness were in my head. The country was "opening" to Americans. What would we find as a group of not just Americans, but Catholics as well?

As I prayed my rosary, asking for some measure of guidance for the trip, I was given one word: neighbor. I smiled in thanksgiving. I was going to meet my neighbors.

After a mostly smooth arrival -- one group member was scrutinized to a level that made us worry about his admission to the country -- we were greeted by the most effervescent sisters you could ever imagine. These pint-sized women embodied the joy of the Gospel with their very smiles. Their spirit was infectious and inspiring.

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