Ignatian Social Justice Essay: Friends on the Border

Dec 3, 2021

 “Welcome Home Sunday” at St. Ignatius Loyola brought new parishioners to the Ignatian Social Justice Ministry and they wanted to do something about the migrant issue.  We decided to research organizations that work with the border crisis and see where we could help the most.

Members of Ignatian Social Justice Ministry, Christine Meyer, Terry Quinn, and Dolores Troy-Quinn, Ludy Brito, and I researched organizations at the border, St. Francis Xavier programs, area churches, Catholic Charities, and Temple Shaaray Tefila.

We didn’t need to look far to see where the perfect fit might be for us. While at another ministry meeting, I had the opportunity to speak with our new priest, Danny Gustafson, S.J.  who mentioned that his friend, Brian Strassburger, S.J. and two other Jesuits have begun a ministry at the border in Brownsville, Texas in July 2021.

Fr. Brian, who was ordained with Fr. Danny, told us he has three main responsibilities at the border.  First, he presides at Sunday Mass for 100-200 unaccompanied who attend mass regularly come to Mass. They eat a snack and sing songs from their home countries. The songs both comfort them and remind them how much they miss their homeland. No one wants to leave home. Second, they assist at the McAllen Respite Center where asylum seekers await transportation to areas around the country. New York Catholic Charities Immigration Department also assists in resettling migrants into the New York area. Third, they bring supplies across the border to the “Remain In Mexico” “tent city” where refugees wait for their approval to cross the border into the United States.  Some of those people have been “Remaining in Mexico” for a year. Doctors Without Borders helps with the grim conditions at that location as does Fr. Brian with his Amazon Wish List. He asks for much-needed supplies and brings them to Reynosa, Mexico twice a week.

Fr. Brian wants people to see and understand what happens at the border. He suggested we make a short trip, joking that we bring his buddy Fr. Danny with us! So, in January 2022, Christine, Dolores, Terry, Fr. Danny, and I are going to the border to experience and witness what life is at the border from a Catholic perspective and see where we might offer assistance.

Fr. Brian created The Jesuit Border Podcast (Spotify link) to interview people who work at the border, focusing on the on-the-ground Catholic response. They want to “lift up the voices and experiences of migrants and asylum seekers from the perspectives of faith and human dignity”.

Please email [email protected] if you would like more information and to become involved.

Here is a link for the Amazon Wishlist. (You may need to search for ‘Migrant Needs in the RGV’): Link

With all the online shopping this week, please consider donating to our efforts to help the migrants in Reynosa. You can find our wishlist at the link below. There are instructions for how to send items in the description at the top of the page. We are especially looking for hats, gloves, and sweatshirts to help keep people warm!

– Laura De Boisblanc, chair of Ignatian Social Justice