A group of about 75 people, including two dozen women religious, will travel to Honduras to see for themselves why tens of thousands of people have fled for their lives.
We wanted to visit the children in detention at the border. We wanted to know what a day in their upset lives looked like; who was caring for them; whether they could play and pray and sing.
Dominican Sr. Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, challenged the group of students, professors and clergy in her audience March 12 at Georgetown University's Dahlgren Chapel to a thought experiment. Making them visualize the story of the good Samaritan, she asked them to graft it onto their own lives, imploring, "Who is lying by the side of the road?" and later, "Am I one of the priests or Levites who passed by?"
Give kids paper and crayons, and they will give you their hearts. At Tucson's Casa Alitas, a Catholic Community Services short-term shelter for immigrant families released from detention, kid's artwork covers the largest wall in the house. Guileless and profound, art by immigrant children puts the border rhetoric of adults to shame.
A group of city commissioners in the border city of McAllen, Texas, voted in mid-February to remove from a building a popular Catholic-administered center run by Sr. Norma Pimentel, who has been praised by Pope Francis for her work with migrants.
America has a history of oppression of "the other" that renews itself over and over, unfortunately with the approval of our country's citizenry. As once we oppressed slaves, now we oppress refugees. A most painful suffering for slaves in the past and refugees in the present is separation of families.
For over 10 years, Felician Sisters have been present to the undocumented and homeless in Pomona, California. But recently we realized that those we met on the streets were the "success" story — migrants who had survived, versus the hundreds who die in our deserts every year.
We've heard about the border's "security and humanitarian crisis," but we did not see any drugs, guns or criminals. We saw parents bringing their children to the U.S. so that they could live without the fear of violence or poverty.
You might have seen Sr. Norma Pimentel around: hoping to talk with President Donald Trump when he made his Texas-Mexico border visit in January; speaking at the United Nations; testifying before Congress; being part of an international satellite broadcast in 2015 with Pope Francis just before the pope's U.S. visit. But that's not all.
Spending time on the U.S./Mexican border in Texas working with those seeking asylum during the Advent season was, perhaps, one of the best preparations for Christmas. In the eyes of the men, women and children seeking shelter, I could see so clearly the face of Jesus whose parents, Mary and Joseph, were also seeking a place of refuge.
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