Building a Bridge of Solidarity: Gonzaga stands with the marginalized

Gonzaga and Spokane community members lined the Don Kardong Bridge to show their solidarity with immigrants and refugees at the southern border.

September 04, 2019
Luke Lavin, Director of Mission and Ministry

Nearly 200 Gonzaga students, staff, faculty and Spokane community members gathered for a candle lit vigil titled “Building a Bridge of Solidarity” on the evening of August 28th. The event was in response to the current inhumane treatment of immigrants, refugees and undocumented peoples at the southern border of the United States. The policies and actions taking place at the border, specifically around family separation and child detention, threaten core tenants of Catholic Social Teaching and have been decried by multiple US Catholic Bishops, Cardinals and Pope Francis.

Speaking on behalf of Gonzaga senior leadership, Provost Gonzales brought a historical and personal narrative to the crisis. Walls and borders, the Provost reminded those in attendance, are contextual to time and place but the weight of such constructs have resulted in terror and death as seen in the recent mass shooting in El Paso in which Provost Gonzalez Gloria Irma was a fatal victim.

Fr. Bryan Pham, SJ followed Provost Gonzalez noting the hope found in faith in the face of injustice. Fr. Pham mentioned the need of prayer and contemplation to serve those who fight for justice over the long term. Fr. Pham, a member of the Law School Faculty, also mentioned the School’s commitment to address this issue with the newly formed Immigration Law Clinic.

Local educator (Ferris High School) and 2018 National Educator of the Year Award Winner, Mandy Manning, highlight the start of the public school year approaching the next morning. This highlight comes in the wake of the millions of totaled missed days by children displaced by forced migration, detention, and family separation. Ms. Manning called the community to action advocating for real and tangible ways to address the crisis through local political advocacy, donation of time and money, and continual diligence to call attention to the issue.

GSBA President Michael Tanaka drew upon his grandparents experience as interred Japanese prisoners during World War II to harken such injustice has historical precedence. Michael, however, called for hope and faith in a “beloved community,” quoting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that learns from prior injustices to secure a better and more hope filled future for those on the margins.

Center for Community Engagement’s Anthony Medina, with the help of two students, led the crowd in verses of “Vamos Todos al Banquete” written by Rutilio Grande, S.J., a Salvadoran Jesuit priest who was killed in 1977 for his pastoral work with rural farmers.

The group was able to symbolically pan out over Don Kardong Bridge as show of bridge building and support for those in our local, state and local community suffering from this injustice.

Vice President for Mission and Ministry, Michelle Wheatley closed the evening with a prayer calling for hope and action in the face of injustice.