Today is an occasion to pause from our busy lives and remember our migrant sisters and brothers who have died trying to reach the United States. The mass and procession at the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona, hosted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, awakens us to the plight of the more than 6,000 migrants who have perished at the border in pursuit of a better life. Whether joining in prayer at the border, gathered with co-workers in your office, or in silent reflection at your computer, each of us is encouraged to take up the Holy Father’s call to solidarity with immigrants.
From a platform of wood pulled from the wreckage of migrant ships, the Holy Father addressed the crowd gathered at the Sicilian island of Lampedusa on June 8, 2013. Pope Francis challenged us “to ask the Lord for the grace to weep over our indifference” by extending compassion to the men, women, and children who risk their lives to flee persecution. Once the face of unjust immigration policies, Lampedusa has since come to represent a rallying point for Catholics seeking a humane response to broken immigration systems.
Shepherded by the eight bishops in Nogales today, CLINIC joins the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration in praying for all who are migrating. As Cardinal Seán O’Malley explains, “We come to the desert today because it is the road to Jericho; it is traveled by many trying to reach the metropolis of Jerusalem.” He continues, “We come here today to be a neighbor and to find a neighbor in each of the suffering people who risk their lives and at times lose their lives in the desert.” Today, we are reminded of the tens of thousands of families separated by migration, pray that pilgrims may journey safely, and reaffirm our efforts to ensuring that newcomers are met with hospitality.
The Arizona desert is our Lampedusa. CLINIC takes up the Holy Father’s call to compassion through our mission and our daily work. May we continue to pray for migrants, welcome the stranger, and work for justice.
*Tessa M. Winkler is Public Education Officer at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)