Organizing – a holy endeavor

Cesar Chávez, organizer of farm workers, died, on April 23, 1993. Born of Mexican-American farm workers, he grew up in the poverty of migrant workers and became a symbol of the struggle of poor migrant workers, largely Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, Filipinos in his time.

Under the influence of a priest and a community organizer, he began to work for the unionization of the farm workers, a notoriously difficult task. Facing major difficulties, including the opposition of the growers and competing unions, he did manage to form the United Farm Workers.

A deeply religious Catholic he often brought used religious symbolism in his efforts, including banners of our Lady of Guadalupe. He had the support of many religious leaders and others. A famous photo is his breaking his fast at the end of a Mass accompanied by Robert Kennedy.

He lived a very simple life, receiving the same wage as other farm worker organizers, $5 a month plus expenses.

Here is a prayer that is attributed to him:

Show me the suffering of the most miserable,
so I may know my people’s plight.

Free me to pray for others,
for you are present in every person.

Help me to take responsibility for my own life,
so that I can be free at last.

Grant me courage to serve others,
for in service there is true life.

Give me honesty and patience,
so that I can work with other workers.

Bring forth song and celebration,
so that the Spirit will be alive among us.

Let the Spirit flourish and grow,
so that we will never tire of the struggle.

Let us remember those who have died for justice,
for they have given us life.

Help us love even those who hate us,
so we can change the world.

 

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