A Long Walk to Graduation

A letter from Fr. Corey Brost, CSV

Co-Director, Viator House of Hospitality

 

 “This is amazing. They did it.” I said to myself, as three Viator House participants walked across stage this spring to collect high school diplomas.

And though that walk to the diploma seemed short during the ceremony, I knew how long and hard it really was.

The walk didn’t start for these men at their high schools. It really started amid the violence they escaped in their African nations – Niger, Ghana and Guinea.

It started with tearful farewells to family and friends, fearful goodbyes leading into the unknown. It continued across the Atlantic and up the Americas for several months, through dangerous jungles, up and down forested mountains.

At times they walked accompanied by other young people fleeing danger and hoping for opportunity. At times they walked scared and alone, accompanied only by the prayers they lifted to the God who became their only hope.

The walk led them to guides – some trustworthy, some not – who country by country offered direction, advice, bus tickets in exchange for the hard-earned money their families had scraped together for the journey.

And eventually, after months on the journey and more months in detention following their request for asylum at the U.S. border, the walk led
them to Viator House in 2017 – and – finally – to freedom, hope, healing and opportunity.

That’s what we do at Viator House. We walk with – we accompany – men who’ve made the frightening and dangerous journey to our nation while they pursue their asylum cases or start to build a life after winning those cases. We accompany them as they develop intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.

At Viator House they also are accompanied by dozens of tutors, mentors, drivers and other volunteers, who remind them daily that they are God’s gifts to us and our nation, that their lives and talents are important to the world. And they remind us through their persistence, resilience and kindness that the God of all holy writings seeks to teach and strengthen us through them.

As I write, we are walking with 20 men from 11 nations. More will graduate high school next year, while our three recent graduates start college. But all are learning, working, healing, laughing, and dreaming only because of the incredible interfaith and international community of volunteers committed to the Viator House mission. It is as if the God of all faiths – through them – is holding us all in a divine embrace.

So that walk to the diploma might have looked like no big deal to most people. But it was a big deal indeed!

Peace

Fr. Corey Brost, CSV Co-Director, Viator House of Hospitality

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