Margaret McGuirk, OP (Sinsinawa)

Leslie Hernandez, a volunteer from Incarnation Church in Minneapolis who joined Sister Margaret.

January 5, 2019

I have often thought that everyone dreams of coming to the United States, but over and over I hear immigrants’ stories of being torn away from what they love most—their families. Marisol, a beautiful young mother in her thirties, shared such a story with me at the Loretto Hospitality Center for Migrants in El Paso yesterday. As usual, I’m using pseudonyms to protect people’s privacy.

Marisol was an administrator for a successful company in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, and is raising her small daughter, Rosa, alone. She loves the large family of eight children that she grew up in. Even as adults, with families of their own, her brothers and sisters have remained close.

Marisol’s father, Martin, has served as a “delegate of the Word” for the past 30 years. In the rural areas, there are few priests and the delegate celebrates the liturgy of the Word, preaches and helps organize community projects. Martin is a strong leader and highly respected and loved.

One day Marisol was driving home from work with Rosa in the car. Suddenly a car pulled up in front and blocked her from moving. A man got out and attempted to kidnap little Rosa. Marisol was able to drive the man away by honking and getting bystanders’ attention. But Marisol knew that the kidnapper would try again and that Rosa was in danger. Her family advised her to flee with Rosa. For safety, they joined the caravan of people traveling north. She waited 10 days in Ciudad Juarez before U.S. authorities allowed her and Rosa to cross the border and plead for asylum. She will wait until an immigration judge hears her case.

Marisol described the pain of leaving behind all of her friends and family and her willingness to do anything to protect her daughter. “I have trusted in God every step of this journey and I know that God will be with me no matter what happens,” she told me. She expressed her deep gratitude for the care that she received at Loretto.

Immigrants like Marisol do not come empty-handed to our border. They bring with unimaginable talents and drive. Certainly, they have enriched our Catholic faith in the United States with their traditions and beliefs. It has humbled me to be one small part of their incredible journey.