Ignatian Social Justice Essay: Friends of the Border: Morning of Prayer and Awareness | March 26, 2022
If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart. That was the theme of last week’s Morning of Prayer and Awareness hosted by the Friends of the Border-Laura DeBoisblanc, Christine Meyer, Fr. Danny Gustafson, Terry Quinn, and Dolores Troy-Quinn. When the Friends of the Border returned in January from Reynosa, Mexico, we vowed to keep alive the message we received from the migrants: to live in faith, have hope, and share the love. Saturday’s Morning of Prayer and Awareness was our latest attempt to keep this vow.
The morning began with a stirring Migrant Stations of the Cross led by Fr. Danny. This was a version of the Stations of the Cross that called to mind the journey of the asylum seeker. We put ourselves in the shoes of the migrants and accompanied them through scripture and prayer.
Several dozen parishioners joined us in person and on livestream. Within twenty-four hours of the event, another 100 people viewed the event on YouTube. Each panelist shared the story of the asylum seeker.
The panel was led by Laura, Chair of the St. Ignatius Social Justice Committee, whose heartfelt recollections and remarks set the tone for the panel. Terry emotionally told the story of four Mayan women who left their farms in the mountains of Guatemala for a harrowing trek through the desert. How could anyone remain detached and passive after Christine told the story of Catarina who suffers from Parkinson’s disease but receives no medical treatment, or Fernando, the eleven-year-old boy who was kidnapped and suffers from asthma? Through Terry and Christine’s vivid images we learned firsthand the unimaginable hardships faced by people fleeing violence and looking for a better life.
Dr. Leo Guardado, a theology professor at Fordham University, cautioned the audience that the migrant crisis will not soon go away. He gave examples of displaced persons from Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Haiti. Dr. Guardado noted the severity of the migrant crisis by referring to Pope Francis’ own challenge: “The influx of immigrants has created a missionary frontier and God will demand an account of our actions. What account will be written of each of our parishes?”
The audience also heard a video presentation from Fr. Brian Strassburger and Fr. Louie Hotop, Jesuits stationed at the Texas border. They discussed U.S. immigration policy and changes they see on the horizon regarding the U.S. response to this humanitarian crisis.
Rafael Cortez, a weekly volunteer at the migrant camp in Reynosa, shared poignant pictures and stories of the daily life of the migrants. He added, “Once you come and see, your life will never be the same.” He feels that with every visit, he is in the presence of the Lord.
So, what’s next? How can you become a true Friend of the Border? There are several ways:
- Order supplies or contribute to Fr. Brian’s and Fr. Louie’s Amazon Wishlist (https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/263E6JV6N7NHZ?ref_=wl_share)
- Listen to the Jesuit Border Podcast (Find it where you listen to your podcasts.)
For any of the following, please email [email protected]:
- Attend legal clinics to help refugees. The next clinic is in June.
- Tutor refugees in English.
- Become a Friend of the Court assisting asylum seekers.
- Participate in future mission trips – Email Jean Santopatre at [email protected]
- Date TBD: ‘Come and See’ at the Southern Border, Brownsville TX and Reynosa MX.
– Terry Quinn & Dolores Troy-Quinn