MINISTRY TO MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES
“Towards an ever-wider WE” is the theme chosen by the Holy Father for the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees on September 26th. Here in the USA, our current news is filled with accounts of desperate people crowding our borders, government deportations, together with accounts of multiple efforts to advocate for human policies and work to meet the needs of those newly arrived in our country.
Writing from California, Srs. Rosemary Nicholson and Natalia Mejia shared news of their part in the initiatives of the San Diego Diocese to welcome those seeking safety by making real and concrete an “ever wider We.”
Rosie and Natalia are working with Catholic Charities, other sisters and other groups to welcome and care for the 250 to 300 people arriving daily. Recently, Catholic Charities moved the migrants to a larger hotel, where they are processed, tested for COVID, provided with medical attention and assisted in reaching family and sponsors here in the USA. Parishes are approached for donations of clothing and toiletries, and Natalia and Rosie often work in a distribution room, giving out needed items.
Rosie was among those presenting in a recent Sisters’ Day on the theme, Strangers/Angels Among Us: San Diego’s Immigrants and Refugees – the Reality in our Diocese NOW. Her topic was Migrant Ministry; other presentations included those by sisters working with trafficked women and immigration law.
A number of RJM’s, including Rosie and Natalia, were invited by Sr. Alejandra Diaz, General Councilor, to participate in an International Conference: Migrants and Pilgrims as our Ancestors – Theology of Human Mobility in the 21st Century. Speakers looked at the migratory journey in a biblical, theological and spiritual context, together with the factors that push people to the desperate act of leaving their homeland. One presenter, a Scalabrini priest at Casa del Migrante in Tijuana, is known to our sisters, who have volunteered at the women’s shelter across from his place for men.
Sr. Rosie shared her feeling that she, and the other RJM’s who have shared this ministry, “have always felt called to the spiritual accompaniment of the migrants on a daily basis,” and have felt their hearts “deeply touched as we move with them from one location to another….”
One speaker at the International Conference made the point that this world-wide migration experience is “a call to be God’s mercy as we engage with the migrants for justice,” … and see “an interconnectedness that transforms us into new relationships with one another and our earth.”
“You shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens….” - Leviticus 19:34