On Wednesday, February 19th, Cabrini Lay Missionaries (CLM) attended “Crossing Borders: A Catholic Response to Migration,” a powerful and reflective talk by Sr. Norma Pimental, MJ, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in McAllen, Texas, hosted by Manhattan College. Cabrini Lay Missionaries Pat Krasnausky, Lorraine Campanelli and Robin Larkins, were moved by the stories of faith, mission, accompaniment and service shared by Sr. Norma.
The challenges presented applied to all of us, not just those who directly encounter immigrants in need at the physical border separating the U.S. from Mexico and Central America. The message articulated by Sr. Norma is rooted not only in justice and prayer, but also reclaiming our humanity, defending life and protecting life. The vision is one of seeing who we are in relationship to others – away from the globalization of indifference. The response, according to Sr. Norma must include “bursting the bubbles where we do not feel, where we do not see the humanity in others, and worse – we do not care.”
The timing of the talk came just weeks after leadership from Cabrini Mission Foundation and the Guadalupe Province returned from their border experience and visit to Sr. Norma’s ministry. Pat Krasnausky had the opportunity to briefly greet Sr. Norma prior to the event, share the Cabrini connection, and present her with a gift of gratitude.
Sr. Norma shared her experiences and stories of the migrants she meets and serves at the border. Confusion and uncertainty abounds for those navigating the many challenges and changing policies that have increased and intensified in recent years for newly arrived refugees and their families seeking asylum in the U.S. This has expanded to the thousands of migrants currently stranded in camps in Mexico, having been sent back for months, even years until their cases are called. Most cases, even those with merit, are rushed, rarely have representation, and are denied. Those that are granted are now being overruled at an increasing pace. Those denied asylum are forced to return across the border. Fear of retribution for fleeing causes them to remain in the tent cities.
how she does not burn out and how she can remain hopeful amidst such challenging circumstances, Sr. Norma replied that prayer and the Eucharist sustain her daily, in addition to the deep faith shared by the migrants she accompanies, and the resilience of the children she meets. Asked what we can do to help, she replied, “Our faith calls us to advocate for policies that are respectful of life, that do not increase suffering. Protecting our borders and keeping criminals away does not mean pushing aside and dehumanizing people seeking protection and a new life. Our faith calls us to recognize who we are in relationship with all people, and of course, to love. We must ask ourselves: What do I need to do to care?”
May Sr. Norma’s ending comment be our prayer: “Holy Spirit, burn with the fire of love, so we can truly care.”