“Where is your brother?” His blood cries out to me, says the Lord. This is not a question directed to others; it is a question directed to me, to you, to each of us…Migrants trust that they will encounter acceptance, solidarity, and help and will meet people who will sympathize with the distress and tragedy they have experienced. Pope Francis, 2013
Recently, Sr. Jenny Sellaro and Sr. Dani Brought responded to this question and call by joining nine others from the US Precious Blood Family for a Border Immersion Experience in El Paso, Texas, at the US/Mexico border. Thousands of migrants seek refuge at this border, and sadly each day, thousands of migrants are turned away, just as happened when Joseph and Mary sought “posada”. We started the week with Mass, celebrated by Bishop Mark Seitz, a holy and prophetic immigrant advocate. During the six days of our stay, we had the opportunity to meet with courageous persons, listen to stories, learn from experiences, and have our hearts stretched even wider in response to those seeking a better life for themselves and their families. We heard the cry of the Blood from our brothers and sisters at the Border, and we saw the hands of acceptance, hope, and solidarity reaching out in welcome.
During our time at the border, we heard about the work being done by many organizations providing services for migrants and refugees. And we also heard stories of long and treacherous journeys, abuse and fear, hunger, suffering, and despair. And in the midst of it all, we witnessed a great faith, a strong belief that God is always present, and a deep sense of peace and gratitude that migrants have found at the foot of the cross.
At the closing of each day, as a group, we prayerfully gathered to reflect on how this experience called us to be a compassionate presence, passionate agents of change, Precious Blood persons living our spirituality deeply in real and concrete ways among and with our migrant brothers and sisters. After this short time together, we returned to our homes and places of ministry. But we were no longer the same. Our minds and hearts had been touched, and we were changed. Now our question is – “Where is your brother, where is your sister, and what do they encounter in us?”
As Adorers, our mission is to collaborate with Christ in his work of redemption by witnessing God’s love and ministering that love to others, especially the poor, the oppressed, and the deprived. (LC 3) As Adorers, we know and experience that migration has created global challenges. And as Adorers, we have and are responding in many diverse ways, making our own the hopes and joys, the griefs and anxieties of all people. (LC 35)
Looking around our congregation, we find sisters worldwide are creating spaces and places where immigrants and refugees are treated compassionately with dignity, respect, welcome, and belonging. In the US Region, sisters are teaching English to migrants and refugees, assisting with legal documents, offering sewing and jewelry classes to women, accompanying them in everyday errands, and helping migrants to develop skills needed for making a new life in a new country. In Korea, our sisters ministered for many years with South Asian immigrant women who had been married to Korean men. Many suffered domestic violence but depended on them because they did not have resources in Korea. Although there were language barriers, trauma experienced and cultural differences, the sisters could connect at the heart level. Recently the shelter has closed, but our sisters remain connected, facilitating needed services so the vulnerable immigrant women can live independent and full lives. Our sisters in Spain support immigrants through language courses, cooking, nursing assistance, and other classes to develop skills for working. The sisters also provide accompaniment and advocate for migrants who have been detained in horrific Immigrant Detention Centers. Their loving and prophetic presence truly shares the love of God and gives dignity to the person. And as has been shared, over the past year, ASCs in Poland have responded wholeheartedly to opening their homes and hearts to the several million refugees who have arrived in Poland from Ukraine. Some sisters help at the Caritas centers, while others care for children and their mothers at the schools where they study with the Polish children. Refugees have become part of our communities in Poland, and the sisters, with their openness, hospitality, care, and compassion, are living the legacy of Maria De Mattias toward our “dear neighbor.”
This is just a sample of how some Adorers, with hearts attentive to the life-giving Gift of Jesus’ Precious Blood, contribute to helping immigrants and refugees experience dignity and hope in their search for a safe and abundant life. How have you and the sisters of your Region, Delegation, Foundation, and Mission become aware of and responded to the immigrant and refugee realities in your place? I invite you to share your story about individual and communal responses that have taken place, which may be embraced by all of us. Where there is one Adorer, there we all are!
Newness invites us…most especially as we give care and possibilities to “our dear neighbor.”
Sister Dani Brought, ASC–US Region