Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Responding to the Call at the Border

Sister Mary Ellen stands with donations of papooses
for young mothers at the border. More than
100 donations were received within two weeks.
Sister Mary Ellen Lacy, D.C., shares about her time serving at the border this summer. 

In spring, I was asked to attend a human trafficking conference. I was haunted by the ease with which a trafficker eyes his victim and cajoles her to follow him into a nightmare. Afterward, I was asked to present human trafficking legislation at the Daughters of Charity Provincial Assembly. As I prepared, I included federal protections for trafficked as well as unaccompanied children.

Like most immigration advocates, I was monitoring the increasing numbers of kids at the border and my concern had been growing. I wanted everyone to know there were established protections for these kids so Sisters might be able to guide them properly. By June, unaccompanied kids were in the news everywhere and I feared they would be ripe for traffickers. I prayed we would respond with the generosity of the Poor.

At our Assembly, some Sisters put up a sign for anyone who wanted to attend an ad hoc meeting regarding the children. About 70 Sisters sacrificed their chance to socialize, rest or take in the sights of St. Louis. They wanted to talk about helping these kids. We shared knowledge about the issue, established an email list and resolved to continue the discussion. Almost 20 volunteered to be sent to Texas that week. Sister Isabel called Catholic Charities in El Paso and was told we could put volunteers in a holding pattern. Things seemed to be under control.

After the Assembly, the group exchanged emails about happenings down south and different service opportunities. We kept our community council aware of our prayers, dreams and ideas. Within two weeks, three of us were granted the initial privilege of going to the border to serve in various ministries. We left within 72 hours of appointment of our posts of service.

I'm in awe by the ease with which God eyes the Daughters and cajoles them to follow Him, once again, onto a road less travelled, to realize the dream of sweet charity and divine justice for His Poor.

I was assigned to live in Harlingen, Texas, to work at a legal assistance clinic for immigrants. My other companions, Sister Sherry and Sister Janina, ministered at the shelter in McAllen. They served as interpreters and companions to young families. As usual, we were sent to serve the Poor and, as usual, we met Jesus every day.

We gathered information, prayed and waited until we came to believe it was time to act. When one mother was not allowed to have one of her three children stay with her because she couldn't afford an extra bed, I told her story and was overwhelmed by the number of people willing to give her money to buy one. Amazing things happen when you embrace the Spirit's momentum and allow Providence to be your guide. God wanted all three of us there so He paved the way. We just had to walk the road He laid. When we did, we experienced that familiar gratitude and peace that follows true surrender to His will.

Want to serve at the border with us? Join us for Vocation Border Immersion in El Paso Jan. 3-8, 2015

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