The newly formed Interfaith Advisory Committee presented a beautiful prayer service remembering farm workers and the struggle they still suffer in the fields. Two days before Thanksgiving, NFWM California gathered at St. Anne’s Shrine in Santa Monica. Fr. Arturo, Pastor at St. Anne’s set the tone; he had fruit hanging from trees leading to the altar for the service. St. Anne’s eight grade students participated in the service, processing between the fruit filled trees. A group of them picked the fruit, placed it in baskets and brought the baskets to the altar. The service was led by Msgr. John Moretta, Pastor, Resurrection Church, LA.
Rabbi Steven Jacob, passionately addressed the congregation: “Recently somebody said something that is so horrible, so terrible, that even you as young people would react to it. Somebody actually said, ‘Stupid Indians, Indians are of no use, of no use, Indians don’t understand anything or can’t do anything’. The worst, the worst hatred against any other person. And these are the kinds of insults from supervisors, made to indigenous workers at Giumarra Vineyards. And this morning, nationwide on NPR they exposed what’s happening to women, particularly in the fields.” People in America, across this land, the week of Thanksgiving are aware of the bitterness and hatred that exists towards farm workers.
They gathered to denounce the unjust behavior Giumarra continues to exemplify and to challenge Kroger to do the right thing. David Farley, Pastor UMC, Echo Park, pronounced the action piece:
… we respond to the injustices that are being perpetrated upon those who labor so hard to provide the food on our table. We respond in action, and we issue now a call to action. The Kroger Grocery chain is one of Giumarra’s biggest customers, Giumarra might not care what we think, but the grocery store just might, Kroger will. Kroger has the power to get Giumarra to clean up its act. And so we are calling people to tell Kroger’s, that as customers we will not accept this treatment of the workers who tend and pick the produce that we eat. We are going to tell them to use their power to promote social responsibility, the social responsibility they say they believe (in). For, indigenous farm workers are doubly vulnerable. Anti-immigrant sentiment leads to serious discrimination. And they face additional cultural and linguistic barriers because they are indigenous people. So we call on all to take a stand for indigenous rights, to tell Kroger to do the same thing now.
After the closing prayer Msgr. John Moretta very pastorally emphasized the reason for gathering was to be aware of what is happening to farm workers and to call on Kroger leadership to use social conscious, to not just accept business as usual and take the profits.
Rev. Elizabeth Gibbs-Zehnder, Associate Pastor, Immanuel Presbyterian Church, LA; Rabbi Neil Comess Daniels, Beth Shir Sholom, Santa Monica; Gilbert Cruz, Associate Priest, Sacred Heart, Altadena, CA; Francisco Garcia, Seminarian at Claremont School of Theology and member of All Saints Episcopalian Church, Pasadena; Bridie Robert, Clue LA along with Msgr. John Moretta, Rabbi Steven Jacob and our host, Fr. Arturo Corral all took part in the service.
One of the most memorable comments was from Msgr. John, “Yesterday was what they call an artistic success. It was beautiful and no one knows how much or to what degree those children were impressed.”