On Ash Wednesday, I visited a shelter in Ciudad Juarez, where people who have fled their homes in Central America are waiting to apply for protection in the U.S. Their stories are unique but have a common theme—they feared for their safety in their home countries. One woman I met fled with her husband and two young children. After her brother was murdered by a cartel, she was told they would come after her and her husband next. At one point they arrived in the U.S. and requested asylum. The U.S. government put the family on a plane, and they thought they were being flown to California. Her little girl kept saying during the flight how wonderful their lives would be in the U.S. But when they landed, they were in El Paso and were walked across the bridge to Juarez. Her six-year-old cried as the woman shared this story. Yet they still have hope that they will cross into the U.S. and find safety.A highlight of my visit was joining the asylum-seekers for Mass and distribution of ashes. How moving it was to join these brave people who knew the pain of fleeing their homes and to pray for the people fleeing their homes in Ukraine. Our faith brings us together as one human family. As Jesuit Refugee Service responds to the heartbreak at the southern U.S. border, in Ukraine, and in far too many other places, there is still hope.
There is hope if we recognize the goodness of the Lord in our midst reflected in the goodness of our brothers and sisters, and if we bring God’s welcome and love to all people throughout the world. We can each play our part and consistently ask ourselves, “What can I do to keep my heart open for God’s call to bring love and justice to those in greatest need?”
Joan Rosenhauer is the executive director of Jesuit Refugee Service USA. She serves on the global JRS leadership team, and leads JRS’s efforts to provide pastoral support for people of all faiths in five U.S. detention centers and to mobilize U.S. support for people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes.
Joan Rosenhauer es la directora ejecutiva del Servicio Jesuita de Refugiados (JRS) en los Estados Unidos. Ella lidera los esfuerzos de JRS para dar ayuda pastoral a las personas de toda tradición religiosa en 5 centros de detención en los Estados Unidos, y movilizar la ayuda de los Estados Unidos a personas de todo el mundo que han debido huir de sus hogares.