Mass on the Border

A dramatic event today at Nogales, Arizona, on the U.S./Mexico border — what has been called “America’s Lampedusa.” Here’s how the USCCB described it in advance:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, joined by bishops on the border, will travel to Nogales, Arizona, March 30-April 1, 2014, to tour the U.S.-Mexico border and celebrate Mass on behalf of the close to 6,000 migrants who have died in the U.S. desert since 1998.

The Mass will be celebrated at 9 a.m. on April 1, followed by a press conference at 10:30 a.m.

The following U.S. bishops plan to travel to Nogales for the April 1 Mass:

His Eminence Sean Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston

Most Reverend Eusebio Elizondo, Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle and Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration

Most Reverend Gerald F. Kicanas, Bishop of Tucson

Most Reverend John C. Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City

Most Reverend Mark Seitz, Bishop of El Paso

Most Reverend Oscar Cantu, Bishop of Las Cruces, NM

Most Reverend Ricardo Ramirez, Bishop Emeritus of Las Cruces, NM

Most Reverend Luis Zarama, Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta

Whispers in the Loggia has the video and the full text of Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s homily. A snippet from that homily:

The hard work and sacrifices of so many immigrant peoples is the secret of the success of this country. Despite the xenophobic ranting of a segment of the population, our immigrant population contributes mightily to the economy and well being of the United States.

Here in the desert of Arizona, we come to mourn the countless immigrants who risk their lives at the hands of the coyotes and the forces of nature to come to the United States. Every year 400 bodies are found here at the border, bodies of men, women and children seeking to enter the United States. Those are only the bodies that are found. As the border crossings become more difficult, people take greater risks and more are perishing.

Last year about 25,000 children, mostly from Central America, arrived in the US, unaccompanied by an adult. Tens of thousands of families are separated in the midst of migration patterns. More than 10 million undocumented immigrants are exposed to exploitation and lack access to basic human services, and are living in constant fear. They contribute to our economy by their hard work, often by contributing billions of dollars each year to the social security fund and to Medicare programs that will never benefit them.

The U.S. bishops should be applauded and thanked for this courageous and dramatic effort to call attention to the dignity and the needs of some of the poorest among us and to continue and intensify their advocacy of immigration reform.

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One thought on “Mass on the Border

  1. On Facebook, Fr. Jim Martin posted a few photos of the mass that were taken by Joshua McElwee of NCR. Seeing Cardinal O’Malley and Bishop Kicanas distributing communion through the fence made me cry. The hands, the anonymous hands reaching through as they waited… Very powerful.

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