Yesterday, a group including some of the United State’s most prominent Catholic Bishops traveled to the US-Mexican border on a two-day “fact-finding” mission. Today they will visit migrant detention facilities to minister to detainees and pray with children who have been separated from their parents.
The Washington Post reports, Sunday Mass was held in dedication to migrant children separated from their families at San Juan Basilica, a renowned pilgrimage site for migrants. The service saw the crowd swell far past it’s 1,800-person capacity for the Bishop’s Mass. Afterward local parishioners spoke with reporters, expressing their hope that this visit will be a catalyst for change:
“As Catholics, we believe in keeping all the families together,” said Pamela Rodriguez, 27, a home health nurse who attended mass with her two children, ages nine and 10. “I believe that God is very strong, and that he can open up the eyes of any and every person. Sometimes it just takes the voice of certain individuals to break through.”
Bishop Daniel Flores, of Brownsville diocese commented:
“The bishops are visiting here with us to understand better what an immigrant lives—a mother, a child, a family. And then to respond. As a church, we have to be the ones who say ‘there’s always a human face, and the human face always points to Christ in whatever suffering there is.’ If we don’t stand up and say this, who is going say it?”
The delegation of six bishops is led by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the USCCB, and included: Bishop Joseph Bambera of Scranton, Auxiliary Bishop Robert Brennan of Rockville Centre, Brownsville Auxiliary Bishop Mario Avilés, and USCCB Vice President and Archbishop of Los Angeles José H. Gomez. The group will also visit the Humanitarian Respite Center which has fed and cared for more than 100,000 migrants since 2014.
The center is run by Sister Norma Pimentel, who also holds the position of executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. She commented, “The community has gathered together to make sure that we take care of these families, and that we welcome them. We must offer compassionate and humane processes that care for these families who are victims of structures that are corrupt and abusive in their home countries.”
The Bishops will bring no cameras or tape recorders with them during their visit of the facilities, as theirs is a mission of charity and prayer. Their findings will be reported in a press conference in San Jose, Monday night.