WE ARE ALL MIGRANTS
Our Community of three Sisters is geographically located at the last point, from west to east, of the long border between the United States and Mexico; 3,169 Km. In U.S. territory, Brownsville, TX., and in Mexican territory, Matamoros, Tamaulipas. Ecclesially we belong to the Diocese of Brownsville.
Aware that we are all migrants, together with a group of lay people, most of them are faithful women from the parish of San Felipe de Jesus in Brownsville, with whom each week we share the Word: "we feel called by the Lord to comfort the sorrows and needs of so many of our sisters and brothers who pass through this point in search of a better opportunity to live with their families with dignity."
Every week on Tuesday we prepare lunch with these women to take to the families who are in Matamoros; here they wait in camps or shelters for months or years while they wait for the opportunity to be called to a hearing to start or continue their asylum process; or in desperation, they jump across the border risking their lives. Some find informal jobs where they can earn something to survive. Many of them come in families to the place where they are given lunch, this day they can save the expense. We have seen women who arrive pregnant, here some of their children are born and take their first steps; others are forced to return to their country. They value our presence, and feel the confidence to share; they appreciate and enjoy what we can offer them.
Two days a week we receive groups of children and young people of both sexes at the parish. They come from the detention centers, where the age to be in these centers are from 10 to 18 years old. They are held in these centers while they go through a process of searching for the person they want to reach; they could be a family member or just some acquaintances. Once the person is located, a research is made of the conditions in which he/she is to receive someone else and the possibilities of taking care of his/her needs. If a person is not able or does not want to receive them, a sponsor is found for them and if no one can be found to take care of them, they are returned to their country. In the centers the kids are always guarded; there, they are provided with food, clothing, study, recreation, sports, rest, medical service and also the attention to the faith they profess is favored. Because of this we are able to have on Wednesdays a religious service with them.
This time is an encounter with the Lord, we prepared prayers and a space in which they relate with God from their cultural, family and personal expressions; they are very moving and enriching moments of faith experience. On Sundays they participate in the ordinary masses in which the parish community attends during the morning, the groups vary from 20 to 50 kids in each mass. At 3:00 p.m. a mass is celebrated only for migrant children and youth, the participation can also vary from 60 to 120 from different detention centers. Both on Wednesday and Sunday after the religious service and the Eucharist we offer time for confession, listening or some other needs that they express; after this we have a moment of sharing the food, we try to give them a taste of what the young people want and that they have not tasted for a long time.
Both the families in Matamoros and the young people and children who come to the parish express in words and in their faces the faith that animates them and the joy they feel when they find a place where they are welcome, listened to and nourished by brothers and sisters who offer them the space to feel at home as members of a great family of the children of God. We have many intentions to present every day to the Lord: the life of every young person, every parent, every new life that is born on foreign soil, because this is what the laws of peoples and nations say... With thankfulness we make our own the words of St. Paul: "I thank Him who has strengthened me, our Lord Jesus Christ, for having counted me worthy of trust in placing me at His service." (I Tim. 1:12).
Dominican Sisters of the Presentation