Social Justice Conversations: My Vincentian Heart is Breaking

by | Nov 15, 2018 | Formation, Reflections

My Vincentian heart is breaking.

In the 1990s, I was privileged to minister as part of a pastoral team of the diocese of Quiche in Guatemala. We were present to resilient and faith-filled indigenous families who experienced 30 years of violent repression by their government and 10 years of safety and education in refugee camps in southern Mexico. Accompanied by the United Nations, the churches and many organizations, the men and women leaders and catechists led the communities in their distribution of land and resources, building of schools and clinics, beginning water systems, etc. They reluctantly shared their stories of oppression, but they preferred to celebrate the new lives they were building in common.  My Vincentian heart was softened.

Today, the families from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, driven by violence, poverty, incompetent governments and security, and brutal gangs, are arriving daily at border crossings.  Sister Alicia Margarita, Visitatrix of Mexico, reports that the migrants in the caravan have been sheltered, fed, clothed and transported by many groups in Mexico City.

In El Paso, Texas, migrant families (ahead of the caravan) continue to cross daily and request asylum. Currently, they spend 8-10 days in the detention centers in deplorable conditions. Ruben Garcia, director of Annunciation House, shared the story of a pregnant woman who was taken to the hospital in shackles to deliver her child. The baby was fragile, and the mother was taken back to detention in shackles. My Vincentian heart is breaking.

Typically, on leaving detention, the migrants, equipped with electronic ankle monitors, receive papers describing their court dates wherever they are going. The families are bussed to one of the many shelters where volunteers offer health care, food, clothing, shelter and accompaniment to the bus station or airport. These families are arriving across the United States, bringing their faith, skills, family values, zest for life and sense of community. They await the health care, schools, counseling, churches, and neighbors to accompany them where we live. My Vincentian heart is breaking.

Sister Julie Cutter is a Daughter of Charity and resides in St. Louis, MO.

Editors note:  This is a group of Vincentian Family members who meet regularly at the request of the leaders of their respective branches. Their reflections do not represent Vincentian Family policy, but are shared to spur our reflection and action. Look for these contributions the third Thursday of each month. Comments are very much appreciated. 

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