Your Passport Please . . .

Where are you going?  What is the purpose of your visit?

Good questions to ask along the road of life.  These were also the questions asked of the God Squad, on the border between the United States and Canada, as we each gave our passport to the border officer.  All together in 8 days we covered 4,000 miles on our cycles. That’s a lot of time in the saddle, but a great opportunity to enter into the silence and more deeply into the questions . . . Where are you going? What is the purpose of your visit?

Most every evening we met up with the faithful in parishes to share a teaching and enjoy the company of other Catholic believers.  Along the way we also met people across America and Canada who were still searching for answers to those very important questions in life.  We met these new friends in gas stations, coffee shops, Harley Davidson dealerships, on a mountain, in the plains or on one afternoon in a juvenile prison.

Why would 25 or so incarcerated teens be interested in meeting with the God Squad?  Good question. One word:  BBQ.  The God Squad seeks not only to feed the soul, but also to practically address the hunger of men and of each person we meet along the way.  So the kids that came that day came with both their hunger and their innate curiosity.  Surrounded by fence and barbed wire, we all ate BBQ together at the picnic tables set up for us.  In our conversation, we became acquainted and even more to know each other.  Listening, sadly I learned that most of the kids came from broken families.  Some did not know who their parents were, many did not have fathers, and still others were seeking sobriety.

The BBQ opened up the conversation for us, but in listening more deeply, I wondered looking ahead and in this moment of meeting, how would we address the brokenness of the boys?  How would we provide healing and begin to satisfy the deep hungers and thirst that we witnessed deep within them?  As Jeff Cavins did in each of the towns and villages we visited, he offered a little drink of understanding to the youth . . . as we each did, sharing the message of Jesus.

One of the boys who expressed his despair in his struggle with sobriety said, “For me . . . I feel it’s too late.”  Yet, knowing as I did that he had begun to walk and work a program of sobriety I had to say, “It’s never too late.  It’s good to see that you have begun. Keep going with the others.”  It’s true the young man did not know his father or his family.  But in that moment, we were there as men and as fathers for him.  And we were encouraging him, “It’s never too late. You have begun. Keep going.”

As on the border between two countries, it was good to be there in the prison with those youth.  To be there at the border that led into young lives we had just met.  Our only Passport in was Jesus . . . and a little (a lot) of BBQ.  While I can not imagine the road ahead for each of them, I could picture the plains, the mountains and the challenges ahead.  Despite the seeming impossibility, I was surprised by the feeling of hope I felt being with them.  Perhaps it was the words of the Gospel that came to mind, “When I was in prison, you visited me.”

I know as does the God Squad, Jesus is true to His Promises.  Jesus will be with them through the good and bad times, the sickness and health, the wealth of experience and poverty for we know Jesus and we know from our own experience that He is true to His Word.


Where are you going?  What is the purpose of your visit?

Fr. Jim Perkl
Pastor—Mary, Mother of the Church
Burnsville, Minnesota