ISJ Essay: An Afternoon of Prayer and Discovery

Mar 16, 2023

In January, St. Ignatius parishioners and members of the Ignatian Social Justice Ministry, Jimmy Coffey, Laura Cronin, Laura De Boisblanc, Anne Melanson, Christine Meyer, and Regan Orillac, traveled to McAllen and Brownsville, Texas, to volunteer with Fr. Brian Strassberger, S.J., and Fr. Louie Hotop, S.J., in their Border Ministry.

Inspired by the plight of our neighbors at the Texas and Reynosa, Mexico border, Migrant Stations of the Cross were designed last year by a previous group who volunteered. On a recent Saturday in Wallace Hall, Fr. Mark Hallinan, S.J., led parishioners in these Migrant Stations of the Cross, and after, Laura Cronin led a panel discussion.

Rosayra Pablo Cruz and her now-19-year-old son, Yordy Michicoj Pablo, who were separated at the border in 2016, began with their stories. Rosy authored The Book of Rosy: A Mother’s Story of Separation at the Border and is part of the upcoming Netflix documentary Split at the Root with Julie Schwietert Collazo, who spearheaded the grassroots foundation Immigrant Families Together.

Rosy and Yordy gave a compelling brief synopsis of their journey. They left Guatemala after Rosy’s husband was murdered. She was paying money to a drug cartel for protection, and when she stopped, they threatened to take Yordy. Rosy, Yordy, and her youngest son, Fernando, had to leave quickly. She left her two daughters behind with her mother. Rosy, Yordy, and Fernando were separated at the border in Arizona. Yordy and Fernando were taken to New York while Rosy remained in detention, wondering how she would make the $12,000 bond.

Rosy and other moms separated at the border caught the attention of a group of moms from Queens, New York, who created a GoFundMe for these detained mothers at the border. The New York Moms posted bond and organized a caravan of drivers to bring Rosy from Arizona to New York City to find her sons, Yordy and Fernando. They are now thriving and living in The Bronx.

After their presentation, Jimmy Coffey and Anne Melanson shared their poignant reflections from the border volunteerism with Fr. Brian and Fr. Louie, and Pastor Abraham from a Baptist Church in Brownsville.

If you are interested in volunteering to help asylum seekers who are in New York City, The Migrant Center at St. Francis of Assisi Church seeks volunteers. St. Francis is located at 135 West 31st Street and needs assistance on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30 AM to 3 PM.

— Jean Santopatre, Pastoral Associate