At a Cleveland retreat center Oct. 24-27, the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking network brought together women religious throughout the Western Hemisphere to share best practices in anti-trafficking ministry and to strengthen connections across borders. "This has given us is a flavor, to look at who we are together in this hemisphere and how we can help one another."
Maryknoll Sr. Rosemarie Milazzo, 86, has pursued missionary work in various countries for decades. She spoke with GSR about her most recent assignment to the Greek island of Lesbos, where she saw firsthand the conditions refugees endure in camps.
Sr. Mary McCabe is not one to say: "Been there, done that." The Sister of Notre Dame de Namur has spent most of the past 40 years helping women in rural farming communities in northern Brazil. And in the past year and a half since she has been back in the U.S., she has been teaching English classes in Baltimore.
For more than three decades, the subterranean level of Trinity United Methodist Church in Berkeley, California, is the place the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant has called home. Its simple red door at the bottom of a stairway has been the gateway to safe and secure passage into the United States for thousands of immigrants and refugees. Despite its rundown environs, Franciscan Sr. Maureen Duignan, the organization's executive director, is deeply worried the program may soon lose this space.
The initiative, which includes housing for refugee women and children, is the result of cooperation between Cabrini sisters, Scalabrini sisters, various Vatican offices, the International Union of Superiors General, and the Italian bishops' conference.
The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas said they are "outraged and appalled" by a recent report of migrant children being moved to a tent city in Texas, adding that what is happening now "pales in comparison to the trauma and uncertainty these young girls and boys and their families will experience for years to come."
Women religious from various congregations are quietly tapping into their faith to advocate for the undocumented. Some of these women happen to be immigration attorneys. Sisters with legal expertise are on the frontlines of changing immigration policies that brought about the separation of families at the border and that made it more difficult for Central Americans to gain asylum.
Sr. Meena Barwa of the Handmaids of Mary was the victim of rape 10 years ago during anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal. At a New Delhi conference on migration, she told her story, which she consented to share with GSR.
Issues surrounding labor migration — such as the rights of migrant workers, high fees on wired remittances, and inconsistent policies across nations — were the focus of a recent three-day conference, "Migrant Workers: An Asian-Pacific Experience." The gathering in New Delhi drew 161 participants, mostly religious, from across Asia.
GSR Today: The Seeking Refuge series took me to Rome and Athens, to see how communities are responding to migration. I spoke to refugee families who taught me about resilience, hope and courage. Sisters and others in the humanitarian field gave me direction as I navigated a tricky and complex subject. These are the lessons I learned.
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