By Sister Anne Connolly
As all our eyes are turned to our Southern border, I am here with news and huge gratitude from the McAllen, Texas, point of entry for migrants—from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela. Here we are in solidarity with our colleagues—Mercy and other—at entry points in San Diego, Laredo and El Paso, solidarity in which we tell one another that “chaos is here, too.”
Recently, I hurriedly took one family to the bus station, arriving to find lines of families, all with the signature large manila envelope holding immigration papers. Similarly, on July 4th, we entered the airport to find long lines of manila-envelope-bearing families. Who to accompany first…
Events of one day: Reunification of family—a lost wife, a brother and sister, eight-months-pregnant woman dissolved in tears with recognition of family member; a phone call in which Guatemalan nephew and uncle disappear into Quiche language; a mother with four-day-old infant, another with beautiful week old; and the nine-months-pregnant mom we refused to put on a plane one morning. I can never forget the joy I felt when I heard the ambulance that evening and watched it stop in front of her hotel room. Joy at having made the best decision.
Dear Sister Renee Yann, with whom so many of us begin our day, told us a few months back: “He kneels over this Earth like a divine medic, and His love thaws the holy in us.” That is what the hours and days—turned into weeks and months—have felt like in the privileged ministry of walking with migrants quarantined/delayed in their journey by COVID.
It in is in that context that I want to advise all of Mercy and friends of Mercy—from East to West and North to South, who have been so incredibly supportive of this ministry with our sisters and brothers seeking a better life—that I will be relocating to Pennsylvania, leaving this in-person ministry with migrants at the end of August. I will be unpacking their stories for months to come and mentoring with those who have already discovered how and where to meet the migrants on the other end of their trip.
Because of you, donations of shoelaces became an abundance of clothing, underwear for every age, leggings for women and shorts for men. Mercy COVID-19 rescue money and donations from so many have made it possible for me to spend upward of $15,000 on clothes for family after family after family coming thru the COVID hotel. Deep and humble thanks to each and all—across this country we want to offer to others as home—who participated in this Mercy ministry with me. Mercy is our first language!
Those of you who came and went as volunteers—we enjoyed the planning and were sorry when it was time for you to leave. There will always be a need at each point of entry for the migrants. Together, we need to implore both the Federal Government and God to take over and make some sense of a situation that seems many days to be out of control. Those for whom it is out of control are human beings, many of them children, not potatoes or other produce in different stages of transport. This image has haunted me these months, and I leave it for your consideration.
I am grateful to be able to communicate with all those across the Institute who have humbled me over and over and over, asking me to be their hands and feet here. It has indeed been a privilege.
[Author’s Note: Pictures of the people of importance in this historic time are noticeably missing for reasons of privacy and safety.]