BY ISN STAFF | May 19, 2023
Twenty-seven members of the Jesuit Migration Network of the U.S. and Canada gathered for a meeting from March 19–21, 2023, in Tucson and Nogales, Arizona. The group included faculty and staff from Jesuit universities and high schools, regional and national advocacy organization staff, and those engaged in direct service and pastoral ministry with migrant populations. The meeting was coordinated by the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology and the Ignatian Solidarity Network. This is the third time the network has met, after a first gathering in 2018 in Washington, D.C., and a second meeting in 2019 in El Paso, Texas.
The gathering began with reports from Jesuit offices and ministries that work with migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border, in Central America, and in the interior of the U.S. and Canada. These included firsthand descriptions of the perils that migrants face traveling through the Darien Gap, the dangers and lack of resources at towns along the U.S.-Mexico border, and ways that faith communities in the U.S. have supported migrants in Phoenix, Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia. Jesuit Migration Network members also discussed opportunities for collaboration to better support migrants along their journey, help them successfully integrate to the United States or Canada, and plan advocacy measures for migrant rights. The gathering also provided opportunities for individual and communal moments of prayer.
On the last day, the group had the opportunity to travel to Nogales, Mexico for a press conference and binational solidarity event titled “We Say Welcome.” Gathering with other faith leaders, advocates, and migrants, the group called on U.S. officials to restore access to asylum so that migrants fleeing persecution and violence have a fair and dignified way to seek safety in the U.S.
Speakers from Jesuit ministries shared how they have accompanied migrants along their journey and welcomed them into their communities, inspired by their faith and the Gospel’s call to radical solidarity. Migrants also shared why they had to leave their homes and the challenges they have faced along the way and at the border.
“It was powerful to gather in solidarity with asylum seekers and members of the Jesuit Migration Network along the border wall in Nogales, Mexico,” said Ashley Klick, pastoral associate for social justice at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., and ISN board member. “My home parish of Holy Trinity has been welcoming families fleeing war, natural disasters, political violence, and ethnic strife for almost seven years. The experience at the border renewed my personal commitment to the practice of radical hospitality. It has also encouraged parishioners to move beyond welcome; we are also advocating for expanded legal pathways for those seeking safety and requesting that our lawmakers demand that foreign governments provide humane conditions so people can remain in their home countries.”
The 2023 Jesuit Migration Network of U.S. and Canada gathering builds on other collaborative groups in the Jesuit network, including the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network and the Red Jesuita con Migrantes (RJM). The Central America and North America (CANA) sub-group of RJM provides a connection for U.S. and Canadian Jesuit ministries to the larger migration network throughout the Americas. Delegates from both countries regularly attend the annual RJM-CANA meeting held each fall in Central America.
Institutions represented at the gathering included: Boston College, Brophy College Preparatory, Church of St. Ignatius Loyola (NYC), Holy Trinity Parish (Washington, D.C.), the Ignatian Solidarity Network, Jesuit Border Podcast, the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology, Jesuit Refugee Service/Canada, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, Kino Border Initiative, Loyola University Chicago, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish (San Diego), Red Jesuita con Migrantes, Sacred Heart Catholic Church (El Paso), Seattle University, St. Joseph’s University, and University of San Francisco.
Those interested in becoming involved with the Jesuit Migration Network of U.S. and Canada should contact Harrison Hanvey, Manager of Outreach and Partnerships at the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology, at [email protected].