Fr. Memo hosts talk on solidarity, injustice


Fr. Guillermo Campuzano, C.M. stressed the importance of protecting the rights of human beings, the environment, diversity, children and the rights of women at his “The Challenge of Embracing the Utopia of the Common Good” event Jan. 14.

“That’s the right direction, and I’m here to advocate for the right direction of humanity,” he said.

Campuzano, a Catholic Ministry representative for the United Nations, returned to DePaul and spoke to an audience of nearly 150, filled with DePaul Leadership Scholars, students, alumni, faculty and staff, empowering them to work toward correcting injustices in the world and listen to every person’s life story with dignity, rather than judgement.  In doing this, one would be working toward the “common good” as well as solidarity. 

Campuzano has worked at DePaul as a minister and professor for nearly eight years and currently works to serve those in marginalized communities, advocating for human rights. 

The stories told to the crowd were real interactions he had with individuals throughout the globe facing hardships and, through storytelling, Campuzano was able to highlight the importance of treating others with dignity, love and care.

One of the few stories mentioned was Nancy’s, a woman who was abandoned at the age of 4 in a park by her mother, near “El Bronx,” a slum in the center of Bogota, Colombia known for its high rates of prostitution, gambling and drug use.  She was forced to maneuver in a dangerous environment without much support and eventually became addicted to drugs at the age of 8 or 9. 

In December 2016, on the path to recovery, Nancy felt comfortable enough with sharing her story with Campuzano and a group of DePaul students on a service immersion trip. There, they found that “El Bronx” was no longer standing, and with nowhere else to go, she remained living in the park where she was abandoned by her mother. 

“She represents the entire humanity when the entire humanity is groaning, ‘Do not leave me alone, do not abandon me,’” he explained.  “The story of Nancy is the story of many, and I, myself, don’t want to be indifferent to that reality.”

Campuzano cited different forms of abandonment, including racism, poverty, hunger and other circumstances that leave many feeling invisible and uncared for, and mentioned the importance of listening to their stories and caring for their needs by “(overcoming) indifference and lack of memory.”

Nancy’s story opened up a larger discussion about what it means to see the humanity in others and finding value and dignity in the plight and struggles of others as humans work together toward a common good.

“Remembering her story is honoring her life and seeing the dignity in her existence and the existence of everyone who has been abandoned in our society,” Campuzano said.  “The only thing you have heard so far in your existence is to care for yourself.  I’m telling you today, care for something bigger than yourself and beyond yourself.”

Senior Joshua Delson joined Campuzano on the immersion trip to Bogota this past December and appreciated how Campuzano’s humble beginnings shaped who he is today.  “It’s really interesting to see how he’s spent so much time with so many marginalized communities from his own background in Colombia, as well as Ukraine, or prospectively Haiti, which I thought was really cool,” he said.

Junior Cree Noble also attended the December immersion trip to Bogota and was present when Nancy shared her story with the group.  According to Noble, her main takeaway was to “(find) dignity in every story.”

Sophomore Jacob Reitinger was inspired to look into different service programs in other countries.  “If there is something I can do, it just makes (me) want to do it more.”