Peace be with you!

My name is Nader Ata. I am a Conventual Franciscan Friar of the Our Lady of Angels Province, USA. I am a transitional deacon preparing for Priesthood Ordination in the fall.

Seeking to live with Franciscan Joy each and every day!

*All of photos on this blog were taken by me unless noted otherwise. Please ask permission before using them. Thank You!*

*Also I am not the greatest speller or writer in the world, so please let me know if something is misspelled. Thank you!"


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Roses in December

Tonight Andy and I watched the film, Roses in December. This film tells the story of four US churchwomen: Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, and Cleveland Maryknoll Lay Mission Team Member Jean Donovan. They were abducted, abused, sexually violated, and eventually shot in the head on December 2, 1980 in El Salvador National Guardsmen. This film focused mainly on Jean Donovan with stories from her family, friends, and mentors, yet speaks of the martyrdom that was experienced for the sake of Christ's people.

So many things touched me about the film. What struck me most was not the faces of the children they helped, not the poverty, not the violence, not that fact they there murder was sanctioned by the government, not that they were good people doing good work, not that three consecrated religious were sexually assaulted, nor that Jean was either - what struck was that Jean knew that she was going to die. On her last trip to London before her tragic death in El Salvador she knew that she would not come back alive and even knowing that she went anyway. What a powerful witness! It is like Christ who on his journey from Galilee to Jerusalem he knew that he was going to die and he went anyway. Jean's drive to go to El Salvador again even with understanding the fact that she would die there makes me wonder about the amount of faith, trust, and hope she had in God.

I just finished reading Spe Salvi the Popes last encyclical letter On Christian Hope and after watching this film hope was all I could think about. I mean you would think I would be sad after remembering such a said event, yet I was driven to hope. Driven to the hope shown by our ancestors, like Jean Donovan and Sisters Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, and Dorothy Kazel. Driven to the hope present in our world today we come more and more aware that every single human being is our brother and sister, father and mother, son and daughter in Christ. And driven to the hope of a future in heaven.

I am unsure where I am going but if anything I beg you never to lose hope. For in a world so desperate to find meaning, we are not called to find hope, rather we are called particularly as Christians to be bearers of hope. In relation to Mary, the Mother of God, Pope Benedict writes "When you hastened with holy joy across the mountains of Judea to see your cousin Elizabeth, you became the image of the Church to come, which carries the hope of the world in her womb across the mountains of history (54)." Take this for what it worth but in defining hope I see it as a virtue and gift from God that gives us the grace to know that we are not alone and there is a future ahead of us, which is rooted in the past and the present, is amidst the community, and is the longing for fulfillment. Be the hope that endures not because everything is great or going well, but because of your trust in God and God's promise.....

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Line in the Sand...the Premiere

So this evening was the premiere performance of The Line in the Sand, which is a CRS (Catholic Relief Services) sponsored production that we acted out. In August of 2005 CRS sent five writers and actors to the Arizona/Mexico border in investigate the immigration crisis. They meet with and spoke to people of diverse interests and perspectives - all who trying to grapple with this urgent and volatile issue. They interviewed about 60 people in total. The play takes those stories and selects 14 of those people for the play including: a border patrol agent, a volunteer at No More Deaths, a doctor in a coroner's office, an intern at the Mexican Consulate, a Arizona rancher, and of course migrants.

Our first performance was great. The lights were good and the live music was fantastic. I did forget any of my lines. And most importantly we told people's stories.

After about five weeks of practicing for it and tonight preforming it live before an audience, I realized that God wanted to do this play since the beginning of time. Okay I not going to go all theological on you all but I really did get that sense today. First I saw one of the first productions of The Line in the Sand every done when I was a student at LaSalle University in Philly. I was away from the play for 3 years before I saw it again. And then this summer I was asked to be an actor in it. At the opening performance tonight, I saw this familiar woman at the show. Sure enough it was Gina Pisasale - one of the original cast members of the show and one of the writer (picture on the left). I could not believe that she who actually spoke with the characters in Arizona and Mexico was here at the premiere of the show. I was floored. Then after the show I met Lynette Bernot who I had only met once before in my life. She is good friend of Diane DeGroat (they grew up together) and I met her one a Friday evening in Baltimore during my novitiate year (picture on the right). Sure enough Lynette is working at St. Mary's University in San Antonio and brought some of the students to the production. A small world and God's providence?? better believe it!!

The last time I acted was in 5th grade in a murder mystery. I was terrified then as I was tonight, but there was a difference tonight fear; I was in fear because my heart was in the play and I wanted us to do it justice. We were not just talking about illegals, undocumented, migrants, or however you choose to identify them, rather we are talking about human being. And this play gives testament to that fact. I was honored, blessed, graced, and forever changed by being a part of it. Who knows how many more performances we will have, one, two, twenty, or even fifty (we are for sure preforming it again on Tuesday)! What I do know is that the stories I was a part of; I will not forget.

I thank Ray, Fr. Leo, Richard, and Louisette for having me enter into this story of these people's lives once again. I thank MACC (Mexican American Cultural Center) and CRS for supporting us in this production. And last but not least, I thank God for the grace to have been a part of tonight and what will come ahead.

On behalf of OST's Teatro Migrante I say good night and God bless!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An Ode to Brooklyn...

It has been about one month and two weeks since I left my summer assignment in Brooklyn and began my second year of theology at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio. It has been a whirlwind since then. I am taking six classes and am a member of an RCIA team with one of them. Though it is a lot reading, reading, and more reading; I am learning so much about the Church (it's teaching, it's life, and those I will serve), my own personal faith, and who this God is that seek to follow. I have also been graced, honored, and blessed to be a part of The Line In the Sand: Stories from the U.S./Mexico Border. We preform a week from tomorrow and also on the Tuesday following that. So pray for us.

Below is my ode to Brooklyn through pictures. Thank for all who made that time sacred. I especially would like to thank the friars at Most Holy Trinity (frs. Santo, Timothy, and Darek) as well as all the parishioners at Most Holy Trinity - St. Mary. Enjoy!

Here is a picture from our Memorial Day party in the newly constructed backyard at Most Holy Trinity Friary with the friars from the local New York and New Jersey area.

These are pictures from the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Festival on her feast day (July 16th). The first picture is of Wellington, fr. Santo, Juan Luis, and Zenaida. Then is one of Manny trying to complete this game to win an Ipod as Wellington watched him. Unfortunately he never was able to do it.

Here are pictures from a sad yet beautiful event - The Stop the Violence Rally and Liturgy. The event was sad because it was in response to the recent increase of gang violence and the shooting on an innocent young adult. The event was beautiful because of the way seven different parishes (and their pastors), the bishop (Nicholas DiMaarzio), people of all ages and races, and people called to various vocations were present. Above you see a picture of the Bishop proclaiming the Gospel, the number of people gathered, and fr. Santo and fr. Timothy to the right and to left of the Bishop. A moving part of the day was a skit were there was a gang fight and about ten teens/young adults were killed. As the skit continued each of those killed were called by name, stood up and the story of who they wanted to be as adults was announced. In the end the message was do not let us loose another life so young.

Above are pictures from the Williamsburg bridge into Not Brooklyn (Manhattan) from Brooklyn. As you can see I am on the Brooklyn. Also there is a picture of fr. Santo with Wellington.

Here are pictures from when the friars came to visit my parent's house in New Jersey for a day of relaxation. First is a picture of me, the friars, and my friends who were there. Then there is a picture of me and my family as my dad prepares to blow out the candles from the surprise B-day cake the friars just happened to bring a week before my dad's birthday.

Above is a picture taken with Ms. Lauren Cecilia Long in her new apartment in Manhattan only blocks away from Central park. It was nice to see her again before leaving for San Antonio.

August 8th, 2008 - 67 years to the date of my dad's birth. The friars said I could go surprise my dad after Mass on Sunday. It was nice to be with the family one last time before going to SA.

After many phone tags, I finally got to see Mr. Brendan Riordan. I had not seen Brendan in about two and a half years. It was a grace to catch up with him (at a 24hr diner by the way - gotta love the East Coast) and it was awesome to see where he volunteers as an EMT through the fire department. Plus I got to visit is home, met Mrs. Riordan, and their cat whose name escapes me.

Last but certainly not least, I was able to see Mr. Ross Nodurft in his new Resident Director apartment at Fordham University. After about two weeks of playing phone tag, we finally met up, had some ice cream, and caught up on life.

Happy Feast Day of St. Therese (the Little Flower) to you!
Thank you for indulging in my Ode to Brooklyn!
Many blessings and much peace to you!