Nine seminarians from The Catholic and Contemporary U. S. Immigration course taught by Sister Kathleen Mitchell traveled to Mexico and Arizona to serve migrants at the border. They had an opportunity to interact with people attempting to cross the border from Mexico to the United States. The seminarians listened to the struggles and hopes of the migrants and served them. The mission trip took place from October 7 to 12, 2021.
Encountering hard realities and moving stories from those who find themselves at the border brought about a transformation in the seminarians. Theology 1 seminarian Daniel Ivan Sanchez of the Diocese of Yakima said, “I say ‘transformation’ because I can no longer see the world nor my life the same. To be Catholic means to be my brother’s keeper.” He expanded upon the culture shock saying, “Being at the actual border was overwhelming to say the least. It is one thing to hear about the situation at the border on the news and it’s a whole other experience to encounter the reality of it in person.”
Sister Kathleen, who led the mission trip, intended to provide just such an opportunity.
“Personally I was especially moved by the sharing of a group of young mothers who were at the Kino Border Initiative shelter who risked everything to come to the border with their children,” she said. “They were fleeing violence, drug cartels, and poverty. There were many tears during this sharing, both from the mothers and from all of us! We also had many educational experiences that challenged us at the border. In addition, we learned a lot about the legal situation of the migrants and what a complex issue migration is.”
Daniel Ivan Sanchez summed up his observations about this experience with his greatest takeaway from the trip.
“Don’t jump to conclusions,” he said. “People deserve to be listened to before they are judged. If you want to begin to understand one’s reality, it starts by stepping out and encountering it. As you journey on The Way, don’t walk past your neighbor laying on the wayside; go out to him.”