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Reflection

Border Compassion

 Our Border Brothers & Sisters

These two stories come from sisters who have traveled to Mexicali, Mexico with the new organization Border Compassion, which was founded by Suzanne Jabro, CSJ. The mission of Border Compassion is to invite faith communities to cross over at the U.S./Mexico border and offer a compassionate humanitarian response to families living at the Posada del Migrante Shelter, which houses up to 300 people.

Border Compassion logo
A group of sisters wearing masks pose in front of the sign for the shelter in Mexicali, Mexico and a large mural
A group of eight sisters from Southern California participated in a Border Cross-Over with Border Compassion in February 2022. Sister Sally Koch, CSJ (far left) and Suzanne Jabro, CSJ (fourth from left) share their reflections below.

“God is opting for the poor, and we have no choice but to go along.”

by Suzanne Jabro, CSJ

Suzanne Jabro, CSJ

A mom holding her daughter sat inside the front window of the shelter in Mexico. The migrants referred to the little girl as ‘the special child’. She is five years old with cerebral palsy and cannot speak or walk. Kevin, her dad, carried her from Honduras to Mexicali, Mexico—a journey of more than 2,000 miles. Witnessing the love of these parents shining through the daughter’s smile moved everyone. Compassion stirred in the presence of this family.

The Posada celebration on December 16th was an amazing event. Kevin’s family was there. We all feasted on tamales and shared stories with great joy. The immigration lawyers with whom we partner were in attendance, but they had no new news for the asylum seekers—the border is closed. A few days later, Kevin’s family was gone. They left the shelter with 30% of the other shelter residents to cross into the United States on their own. Some made it, and some did not. The shelter is “a stable” along the journey to a destination. Waiting in the crowded conditions of the shelter, made worse during a pandemic, is excruciating.

A week passed, and Kevin sent a WhatsApp message, “Hola!” In response, I asked, “Is it true that you are in Long Beach, CA?” He responded, “Sí, Hermana.” Kevin wrote again in a few days. “We are now in Houston, Texas.” They had reached their destination.

Accompanying this family was a Christmas gift, igniting a depth of solidarity and powerlessness. Gustavo Gutierrez sheds light on the scene, “God is opting for the poor, and we have no choice but to go along.” God’s preferential love for the poor is seen in the grace of love shining on the face of a disabled child and her parents in a shelter in Mexicali, Mexico on their way to family and home.

A sister reaches out to two migrant children near a playground

More Questions than Answers

by Sally Koch, CSJ

Sally Koch, CSJ

I recently journeyed across the U.S./Mexico border with several of our sisters who showed me how to live our charism of Unifying Love. Love is an action, and the six sisters–Sisters of St. Joseph Teresa Avalos, Suzanne Jabro, Carol Brong, Ines Telles, Teresa Lynch, Rosanne Belpedio and Benedictine Sister Elisa Martinez–each put flesh on Jesus’ ears and heart as they did what they have always done, compassionately be with our dear neighbors who society would rather forget.

The one-day immersion in Mexicali, Mexico with Border Compassion left me with more questions than answers. More heartache than joy. Here are only a few of my ponderings as I reflect on the stories I heard (thanks to the translation of Sisters Inez and Teresa).

Imagine you were walking in the migrants’ shoes, what would you do?

Where do you go when the country and culture you grew up in turns on you, and you are no longer safe? Would you flee for your life because of violence done to you and/or your family? Maybe you were able to bring your kids and maybe you were not.

How do you heal after an arduous traumatic journey, finally getting to the border that offers you more trauma, by way of sexual violence and emotional abuse? You are either locked up or deported and told you are not wanted here, go away.

How do you cope when your only desire is to wrap your arms around family in the United States, yet month after month the immigration lawyers tell you the USA is not accepting asylum cases? Do you try to cross the border anyway?

There are so many justice issues within and beyond immigration, where do we begin? Maybe taking one small step – call your legislature, send a comment to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, donate to or cross over with Border Compassion, watch the recording of Compassion Knows No Borders, continue praying and finding creative new ways to use our privilege to support migrants.

Two sisters, wearing masks, comfort a woman who has her back turned to the camera
Our Border Brothers and Sisters series logo

In line with our commitment to defend the rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, our new blog series “Our Border Brothers and Sisters,” we present the stories that our sisters and associates who have had border experiences would like to share. We are grateful to them for their generosity. It is our hope that these stories will open us to seeing and understanding our brothers and sisters in greater depth because, as Colum McCann once said: “You can’t hate someone when you know their story.”

Read more about our commitment to migrants

Category: Reflections, Stories

1 thought on “Border Compassion”

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    S Phyllis Sellner, OSF

    Beautiful blog about the goodness and kindness you extended to these dear travelers who are seeking freedom and a better life. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and emotions. You reminded me of my own journey across the Border in December ’21 when I was privileged to travel with S. Suzanne. Thank you for extending your goodness and love to these lovely people. I keep thinking of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus who also were travelers seeking a safe place to flee from violence.

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The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are a congregation of Catholic sisters. We, and those who share our charism and mission, are motivated in all things by our profound love of God and our dear neighbors. We seek to build communities and bridge divides between people. Since our first sisters gathered in 1650, our members have been called to “do all things of which women are capable.” The first sisters of our congregation arrived in St. Louis, Missouri in 1836, and we now have additional locations in St. Paul, Albany, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Japan and Peru. Today, we commit to respond boldly to injustice and dare to be prophetic.

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