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God Blesses Casa Juan Diego With New Baby

by Angel Valdez

Celia came to us from the Bruderhof to join in our Works of Mercy at Casa Juan Diego.

As of Tuesday, January 10, there is a new member at Casa Juan Diego. She weighs six pounds but is steadily gaining, has beautiful black hair and perfect little fingers and toes.

Cristina’s arrival at Casa Juan Diego was celebrated by all the women and children who make up our unlikely community, a motley group hailing from Cuba, Central and South America and the Congo.

Cristina’s mother is an undocumented immigrant who crossed the border recently and arrived at Casa Juan Diego, without home, friends or family, two days before her due date. It was early in the morning when she woke me from sleep with a knock on the door and told me the baby was coming. I helped her downstairs and through the front entry, where volunteers were setting up stations for our weekly distribution of food – rice, beans, potatoes, canned goods and seasonal produce. That weekend we had received crates of freshly picked oranges and grapefruits, and the hall was filled with the sharp scent of citrus. Outside, the line of people waiting for food extended into the pre-dawn shadows. Dark eyes followed us as we made our awkward way past them and into the welcome obscurity of the car.

I took the mother to the local hospital’s labor and delivery wing and left her in good hands. Early in the afternoon I was back in the house and received a jubilant text from Julia, my fellow Catholic Worker who had spelled me off at the hospital. “BABY IS BORN!” it proclaimed in all caps. The news spread quickly around the house. The children, who currently outnumber the adults in the house, begged to see photos while the mothers started compiling all their advice and experience into long diatribes to present when mother and baby came home.

Cristina was two days old when the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy that had allowed our house’s Cuban population to enter the country and receive their benefits was repealed. She could not know how many mothers looked at her and thought with aching hearts of the children they’d left behind in Cuba, hoping to earn enough money to bring them up too.

Eight days later, she slept tranquilly through the inauguration of a new president. And before she was two weeks old executive orders had been signed for the construction of a wall whose primary purpose was to keep people like Cristina’s mother from entering our country.

“BABY IS BORN!” This is the headline we proudly loft in the face of so much uncertainty, fear, and conflict. Against barbed rhetoric we hold, as a shield, the peace of this baby. Against perversity and impurity we hold her innocence. Against division and doubt we hold her dependence and trust. And against despair we hold this hope: God loves and trusts us enough to give us this incredible gift – His beautiful daughter, made in His perfect image, worthy of the life and death of His son Jesus. This, not the wearying reports of political sparring, the wars and rumors of war, this is the biggest news of the New Year. Unto us, right here on the corner of Durham and Rose, a child is born.

Houston Catholic Worker, April-June, 2017, Vol. XXXVI, No. 2.