MIGRANT MINISTRY REFLECTIONS - Sr. Norene Costa, RJM
In the darkness of the night, white vans transport migrant families to the shelter. Approximately 125 mothers, fathers and children arrive at the shelter, located in an unoccupied school named in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Upon arrival, there is a background check of the migrants by border officials, followed by a medical examination of each newcomer. What was once a school auditorium now serves as a bedroom furnished with cots and a blanket, but no pillow.
After being assigned a bed, the families are served a hot meal – their first experience of “THIS IS MY BODY OF FOOD AND FREEDOM.”
As daylight dawns, Rosie, Nat, Rosa and I head to the shelter, show our identity to security guards at the gate, and enter the facility. After several days, I am recognized as a volunteer. I first meet with young men and women who direct me to the tasks of the day – I am both amazed and surprised at the loving care and responsibility displayed by these millennials – our future leaders.
My days are spent with children of all ages doing art projects. We meet in the playroom, or weather permitting, outdoors in the sun. Most of the children (and many of the parents) have never been to school. Their drawings, crafts and the colors that they choose are spectacular and remind me on another level that “THERE IS SO VERY MUCH HOPE FOR THE EXCLUDED.”
My days with these migrant parents and children pass quickly, but will remain with me for a lifetime and beyond. With all my heart I thank Claudine for the “push” that sent me to this border ministry, and to Zechariah and Elizabeth for the encouragement, model and conviction that nothing is impossible with God that led me to say “YES” to working with the migrants, even in my old age!
May God continue to bless and keep safe all migrant families and all those who minister to them and try to make “A PLACE AT THE TABLE” for each one.
- Sr. Norene Costa, RJM