By Angelie Ryah, a member of the Casa de Misericordia Intentional Community in San Diego
Oh my friends. Words fail to capture my experience yesterday of being allowed inside the San Diego Convention Center, where 1,450 unaccompanied migrant girls are being held.
As part of a larger group of clergy volunteering to provide spiritual care to these vulnerable kids, I joined two of my community members, Sisters Mary Waskowiak and Mary Kay Dobrovolny, to attend a Mass led by the local archbishop. After lots of security procedures, we were escorted into the main area. I had expected to simply observe, but all three of us were seated on the platform with the bishop! We helped lead some singing and clapping, but most of all I looked into their faces; saw the tears and sadness; and watched them shift between smiles, confusion and crying within minutes.
Afterwards, we each got to offer prayer for whoever desired it, and long lines of kids immediately formed in front of us. It was unspeakably tender to get to bless them with a few words of hope. Many opened their arms for a hug and just melted into tears as I held them. It was so hard to let go! There were a few little brothers getting to stay with their sisters, and one shy little charmer of maybe 5 years kept coming back for another hug.
My heart feels broken wide open with both love and pain for them. Please pray that they are each reunited with family as soon as possible, for the amazing staff working with them, and for our national leaders grappling with our complex and broken immigration system.
This poignant song by singer Sara Groves, which was inspired by a trip she made to Rwanda, echoes what I’m feeling today. It’s called “I Saw What I Saw.”
I saw what I saw and I can’t forget it
I heard what I heard and I can’t go back
I know what I know and I can’t deny it
Something on the road, cut me to the soul
Your pain has changed me
your dreams inspire
your face a memory
your hope a fire
your courage asks me what I’m afraid of
(what I am made of)
and what I know of love
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