Joining the Mariachis with a Tentative Alleluia

October 18, 2019

By Sister Anne Connolly in McAllen, Texas

Excited children on the Mexico side of the border play with the blow-up beach balls volunteers brought to them, along with food and other supplies.
Excited children on the Mexico side of the border play with the blow-up beach balls volunteers brought to them, along with food and other supplies.

We continue our work here on the U.S.-Mexico border to assist those seeking safety and shelter in the United States. As many know, neither the U.S. nor Mexico really wants these refugees.

The U.S. has tried to put in place rules requiring asylum-seekers to ask asylum from the countries they pass through, all of which have identical violence, exploitation and food poverty.

While I don’t wish to ignore these realities—indeed, it is impossible to ignore them—I understand there is also a need to hear some good humanitarian news from time to time.

So, some snippets of news from right across the border:


  • Catholic Charities is trying to find ways to get things across the border to those who need them from ample supplies. They are doing this amid many obstacles put in their way by Mexico. The Mexican government is not sure they want us to be making the people feel comfortable! At this time, every Wednesday and Thursday have been designated for us to take acceptable relief items across the border.
  • On a recent Saturday, someone took 40 gallons of milk and cups and shared all of it with the children waiting with their parents. I keep my ears open if someone is going across the border, and with the donated funds I send more milk.
  • As families are waiting for months, “pup tents” are what many are taking to them for some protection. Know that I am attentive to a need for more tents for new arrivals across the border. So far, when we hear of a need, there are immediate donations. Everyone wants to help!
  • On a recent Sunday, we received a family of nine late in the day and learned that it was the mother’s birthday. A staff person on duty made a lovely simple fiesta from what was in the kitchen and sent us all a video. The mother cried through the singing and hugs all around. It was very touching. Why did this family of nine travel so far? And how did they make it to us? And will they remain successful?
  • I take a young mother, Mariela, to the hospital most days to visit her now 3-week old baby girl, Genesis. Saturday was the first time Mariela held her little one, and it was also the first time Genesis received nourishment by mouth, not through feeding tubes. It was an unexpected delight to be present for this miracle. Once the hospital releases Genesis, the two will fly together to Missouri, to their sponsor.
  • Something meaningful occurred after one of these hospital visits. As I was leaving, a nurse and I greeted each other and then went on our way. Behind me, I heard a voice and, turning, saw it was the same nurse. “Are you a sister?” she asked. (My Mercy medal is on me every day.) “Yes, I am.” Nurse: “Thank you for what you are doing for these people.” The touching little moments. We do not look for thanks or any such thing, but the feeling of solidarity is immense. I also thanked her for what she is doing in her work. She is one of the nurses who has been caring for Genesis.
  • Please note there is not a need for monetary donations at this time. I have some tucked away for needs as I become aware of them. Money is not the issue; compassion and human dignity are. We are talking about migrants sitting in Mexico, waiting for hearings in October, November, December, January, a year from now. They are waiting, and the cold months are coming.
  • Because people are so generous, we have a good supply of everything, and donations are still being received. Basics like diapers, wipes, feminine napkins, toilet paper and baby bottles are among the most acceptable things. Recently, when a group of volunteers went across, they distributed every last pair of shoelaces they had with them. So I will resume taking some little by little to the center from my great storehouse to be sent with each trip. Thanks to all who have contributed!

Volunteers from Catholic Charities pull wagons full of supplies toward the bridge into Mexico, where they will distribute them to migrants on the other side.
Volunteers from Catholic Charities pull wagons full of supplies toward the bridge into Mexico, where they will distribute them to migrants on the other side.

I remain positive about the choice I am making to stay on the home front, helping volunteers be ready to carry items across the border as it is possible. Being a steady presence here, getting people to the airport and hospital among other things, seems to be what is put into my hands when I extend them.

All of the above happens amid a roller coaster of feelings for each of us each day. On September 29, World Day for Migrants and Refugees, we heard from Pope Francis, “It is not just about migrants.” At liturgy that day, I was not sure about joining the mariachis singing “Alleluia.”

Thanks Sister Mary Pat Garvin for your recent reminder for Mercy Day, which I share here: “Our world is at stake. Our lives are at stake. God’s dream is at stake.”

We are certain that dream is for everyone to be able to join and sing with the mariachis, but for now our “Alleluia” is admittedly tentative.

United in serious prayer and mercy, and with much love, Anne.

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  1. Diane Clyne

    Great update. So heartening to receive good news in our present reality.
    Thanks for your presence.
    Diane


  2. Sister Miriam Nugent

    Thank you so much for your reflections. I hope you can send us updates on Genesis and the Mom. I can’t imagine the anxiety of the parents. Please know of my prayers and those of all of us who are not at the border. May Christ continue to give you strength to help our brothers and sisters in Christ.


  3. Sister Miriam Nugent RSM

    Thank you so much for your reflections. I hope you can send us updates on Genesis and the Mom. I can’t imagine the anxiety of the parents. Please know of my prayers and those of all of us who are not at the border. May Christ continue to give you strength to help our brothers and sisters in Christ.


  4. Patricia Cook, RSM

    Thanks so much, dear Anne, for your presence and your faith and your attempts to do what you can. It all touches me deeply and I am grateful beyond words for your Mercy presence.

    It thrills me to recall that where one Mercy goes, we all go! Amen!

    Peace and prayers, Patty


  5. Mary Anne Basile

    Thanks so much for the update. A thousand thanks for your service.


  6. Karen Scheer, RSM

    Thank you Anne for your presence and witness of Mercy and solidarity with our brothers and sisters at the border.


  7. Judy Carle

    Thank you Anne, for your detailed and heartfelt report. You really give a sense of what it’s like to accompany – to enter into the challenge, hope and grief of immigrant families who are giving all to find “abundant life” — the purpose for which Jesus pitched his tent among us. My prayer is with you and all the border peoples.


  8. Katie Mindling

    What a true daughter of Mother McAuley, seeking to help those in need! And we trust that with you there, all of us are brought closer to this important and timely work of mercy.


  9. Suzanne LaVoie

    This story is so hopeful. Thank you!
    You mention being a sponsor … do you have any information on how to become one?
    I am in CT and could help a family of 4 or 5.


  10. Doris Gottemoeller, RSM

    Your words made me feel that I was right there! Thank you for all you are doing and for sharing the experience so beautifully.


  11. Marie McIntyre rsm

    Thank you Anne for your Mercy presence in Mexico. I am grateful to the God of Mercy who has inspired so many donors to support you. May that same God con tinue to strengthen you in your Mission of Mercy. wWe are all behind you here in South Africa, as Sisters of Mercy. love and prayer, Marie


  12. Richard Mary Burke, RSM

    Anne, your inspiring message and your ministry energized my own spirits! Thank you for your generous and gracious sensitivity to the lives of our brothers and sisters in need. Also, I am holding Genesis in gentle heart and prayer with her devoted mother. Blessings, Richard Mary


  13. anne connolly

    Some of you asked for an update of Genesis and Mama. We had 2 babies in the hospital neonatal unit at the same time, premies. Genesis was there for a month! She and 12 day old Luis were both ready to be released on Wednesday.
    We scrambled for car seats that we had to present for testing before the hospital would let us take the babies. Luis and Mom and teen brother traveled on to Chicago the same day. Genesis and Mom waited until today Thursday and are now in Houston, TX where flight to Chicago was delayed. Mariela is communicaitng via WhatsApp. All of Midatlantic will rejoice to know that recent Mercy Day Donations were sufficient to cover $912 plane fare for Luis with Mom and big brother, an anonymous donation, but we Mercy can smile to know it was us. It didn’t seem kind if I had the donation $ to allow them to take the planned bus trip. Mariela had family here in the states ready to pay for her trip.

    The queston about how to become a sponsor I don’t have the answer to. the Sponsor I was referring to is the name given when a migrant arrives with us, the name of person awaiting their arrival and who will be paying for this next part of their trip.


  14. Mary Bilderback

    Thank you, Anne, for holding high the light of Mercy entrusted to us.


  15. Olga Gonzalez Nichols

    What a joy and privilege to meet you last week, Sister Anne, and to witness the immense work of solidarity and mercy and love that you are doing there, shoulder to shoulder with Rosa, Willie, and all the staff and volunteers.
    As I pray for the immigrants waiting and already this side of the border, I also remember you and all the staff in my prayers, giving thanks for your labor of love.

  16. Pingback: Donate shoelaces and shoes to help refugees, impoverished youth – SALVEtoday