Immigration: Responding to needs at the US southern border
The image that accompanies this story shows Mary, Joseph and Jesus fleeing to Egypt to escape Herod. Many centuries later, there are contemporary stories of families fleeing from Central America to the United States in order to escape violence. Building on a long Notre Dame history of ministering to immigrants, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in the US are reaching out to minister to immigrants the border. The following are highlights of these efforts:
The Dilley-Texas Project (CARA Pro Bono Project): In 2017, after hearing about the legal team (CARA PROBONO) helping asylum seekers coming to the Family Detention Center in Dilley, Texas, Sisters Denise, Mary Alice and Tracy offered their services as interpreters and as a data entry team helping asylum seekers prepare for their credible-fear interviews with ICE. Subsequently, they shared their experiences with the US Leadership of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, who approved funds to support more sisters interested in serving at Dilley for one-week periods. During 2018, Sisters Pat, Marie, Betsy, Jacinta, Judith, Susan, Olivia and Nancy have participated in this volunteer project. More is planned for 2019-2020
Arizona: In Arizona where Notre Dame has been present to immigrants for years, our sisters continue to find new ways to support immigrants arriving at Arizona's border with Mexico. Sisters Margaret and Bernadette have traveled volunteered monthly at the Jesuit Kino Institute, which provides support services for immigrants. Sisters Olivia and Nancy have been educating the local immigrant population in ESOL and citizenship. They recently gathered information about what services are being offered to immigrants and how immigrant policies are currently operating on the Arizona border.
El Paso and McAllen: The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) recently sent out an SOS calling religious communities to help in the Texas border cities of El Paso and McAllen, which are overwhelmed, with an influx of new arrivals from Central America. Sister Mary Alice went as a volunteer to El Paso where she encountered religious women from ten different communities working as volunteers in conjunction with local volunteers in six shelters for incoming immigrants.
San Antonio-McAllen: Observing that a number of East-West Province Across Unit Circles and Visioning meetings were calling for new ministries especially near the border, the Province is sending Sisters, Judy, Betsy and Mary Alice to Texas. This team will spend a week in December doing volunteer work in progress.
An Exciting Start
Last month, twenty-nine new teams of Notre Dame Mission Volunteers (NDMV) embarked on the exciting journey of service! They spent time learning the history of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the NDMV/A program, were oriented to their new locales, and were provided resources to help them navigate their service.
Our Common Home
Our common home and integral ecology are two key phrases from Pope Francis’ Encyclical “Laudato Si”. If we truly believe that caring for our common home is our call, integral ecology speaks volumes to us who are growing in awareness of the interconnectedness of all creation.