The World Day of Migrants and Refugees is observed by the Catholic Church on the last Sunday of September. This year it was on September 26. The theme was “Towards an ever wider “WE.”
We are called to remember the many vulnerable people who are forced to flee their homes in search of a safer future. We are called to open our hearts, to be welcoming, inclusive, accepting of the “other” and celebrating our diversity.
Christa Parra IBVM is currently living and working with migrants at the border of El Paso, USA and Juarez, Mexico. She works in collaboration with other Sisters from various Religious Congregations and volunteers. She was visited by Judy Illig IBVM and Mary Carton IBVM.
Mary Carton said the visit “was a pastoral visit to Christa – to see her in her home and places of work, to meet the people important to her and those who give her life, to see how her faith and IBVM connection are supported.” They were also able to visit other migrant shelters at both sides of the border. They were fortunate to be able to share stories and meals with some of the migrant women and their children.
Mary shares the story:
“Thursday morning we all sat in a circle. Christa invited each woman to tell her story – as much or as little of it as she wished – in Spanish. Christa then translated it to Judy and I. To get it going she asked the two of us to tell a little about ourselves, so they could learn about us. Then gradually the others told stories. Some aspects of the journey came out – the reason for leaving Guatemala, not too much about the journey, the difficulties in some of the shelters along the way, and the challenges at the border. This network of shelters in Juarez/El Paso is a charitable and safe network. But not all. Assault, abuse, drugs, theft – they each – mother and child – had experienced some or all of it along the way. Yet, they also spoke of the beautiful landscapes along the way, too. It was, as Judy said, both heart-warming and heart-wrenching to listen. Tears flowed at different times, hugs abounded after we came to know each other in a new way. Sisters all are we.”
Read Mary Carton’s Reflection in full.
Photos: Top: Judy Illig IBVM and Christa Parra IBVM, Painting of Our Lady. Below: Mural in Ascension House, view from Shelter window, embroidery made by women in the shelter. Photos taken by Mary Carton IBVM