There's a Place For Us

To belong to different cultures is an opportunity to learn.

Sylvia Martel
As members of Amor en Principio, Sylvia and Javier have committed to establishing their relationship on solid ground.

Because I have three identities, I am not one or another, I am all three. Therefore, I have to balance them.

In Mexico I am not considered a Mexican because my mother’s parents are Cuban, I have a strange accent, and I have lived in the United States for a long time. They call me gringa. In the United States I have been marginalized, particularly when I first came here, by teachers who either did not like my culture or failed to understand it. And when I went to Spain, I was marginalized for being a U.S. citizen.

Because I am never truly home, I have always been attracted to the concepts of journey, pilgrimage, and the kingdom of God. I can identify with them because it is difficult for me to really know where home is. The closest I have been to home has been the borderline that divides the United States from Mexico.

No matter what country I am in, I always feel as if I am on a pilgrimage to discover something new and unknown through the experiences of others. I have learned that my true home is the kingdom of God, which is, as the Bible says, at hand and still to come. It is a kingdom where there are no boundaries and discrimination is nonexistent because everyone is in total communion with each other, within themselves, and most importantly, with God.

The idea of ministry has always attracted me because it is a fulfillment of the Christian duty to love our neighbor everywhere, all the time, whenever our neighbor is in need.

I consider myself a creative, hardworking, and caring person. I genuinely care for people. If someone is down because she broke up with her significant other or a friend did something terrible that he cannot tell anyone, I am there to listen.

I also like to help those in need, which is why I decided to help out with a project in Kenya. I am also aware of the needs of those in my community, which is why I helped to raise money to give a Thanksgiving meal to poor immigrants in Naranja, Florida and delivered food to different ministries.

I am currently a member of two Hispanic groups in the Miami archdiocese that work with youth: Amor en Principio and Encuentros Juveniles. Amor en Principio is a group for young unmarried couples, ages 18-25, who wish to establish a firm base for a solid Catholic relationship. Encuentros Juveniles is a group for young adults, ages 16-24, that focuses on the evangelization and formation of youth following Jesus’ call to build a civilization of love. Thus, I can integrate all I am.

Your turn:

  • Have you ever felt torn because you feel you belong to more than one cultural group?
  • How do you deal with that?

She made her mark

Almost blind, her skin marked by chicken pox, persecuted by her tribe for becoming a Christian, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha died at the young age of 24, but all who met her were affected by her life. Her memory stays as a model of deep faith and trust in what really pleases God.

  • Have you ever felt alienated from your peers because of your beliefs??
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