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Mercy Without Borders: The Catholic Worker and Immigration Paperback – November 1, 2010
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About the Author
Mark And Louise Zwick Founded Casa Juan Diego, the Houston Catholic Worker, over thirty years ago. During that time, they have received thousands of undocumented immigrants and refugees, providing a place to stay, food, clothing, information, and medical care.
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The Zwicks proved to be problem solving social workers serving the immediate needs of hundreds of needy people. Long range they were changing the way the rest of us look at immigration, not by preaching to us but by their example. We got to interact with some very nice human beings and I don't just mean the Zwicks and their staff but the smiling people who were finding a safe place to stay while they dealt with their legal problems, contacted relatives, had their health problems taken care of and looked for work to make their own way in this prosperous, if not always generous, country to which my own four grandparents had come for the same reasons the present immigrants are coming. I wish my grandparents had met the Zwicks when they had first arrived, penniless and frightened.
This is a well written book, worth reading for any reason. I learned a lot from it. It also made me very proud to be a Catholic but I must say a little bit ashamed to be an American. Even if I had never met the Zwicks, I think this book would have been a game changer for me.
Catholic Workers Mark and Louise Zwick tell stories of their 30 years of serving the hungry, the sick and the homeless at Houston's Casa Juan Diego, a shelter for Mexican and Central American immigrants. It is the stories that are the heart of the book and it is the stories that make it so fascinating.
Whether reading about the horror of the journey from Central America to the United States or the joy of finding lost relatives, you will find yourself immersed in a world very different from the one in which you live. Perhaps you will be able, like the Zwicks, to see Christ in the faces of the homeless and the desperate. Perhaps not.
But you will not be able to see "illegal aliens" in the same way, ever again.
Social work faculty have a difficult job in insuring that their graduates know how to serve vulnerable populations, work for social justice and at the same time influence the local and global structures that create human suffering. Impossible you say! But Mark and Louise Zwick have been doing it for thirty years.
The stories in their book both invoke awe and inspire confidence that it can be done. Equally important, the stories, involving real people in real situations, are interesting to read - a perfect complement to the mountain of theoretical material that aspiring social workers are expected to master.
While the Zwick's work is rooted in Catholic social teachings, their book transcends any one tradition. It is a lesson in history, economics, service, and policy, taught as much for the heart as for the head.
I can't wait for my students to read it.