Monday, April 8, 2019

Hospitality for migrants in Texas (USA)

Fr. Bob, Fr. Brian and the people of Queen of Peace Parish in Harlingen, Texas are certainly "stepping up to the plate" to help the immigrants coming into the country.  They have opened their parish centre hall as a reception help centre for those released from Federal Custody.

Then, Fr. Bob tells us more about this initiative.

I am grateful that the link to a local news broadcast was sent to all of you. It does give the broad outlines of what is unfolding here in Harlingen. Allow me to fill in some blanks.

Bishop contacted the director of Catholic Charities last Thursday asking her to contact Queen of Peace asking if we could extend hospitality to migrants. Today we will be receiving guests from south of the border for the first time. I’m told we will receive 53 persons.

Our facilities here have some limitations. For instance, we have no showers we can make available to those who have been in custody with Immigration for as many as 5 – 7 days. With the generosity of the American Red Cross, we have 80 cots, 80 blankets, and 80 personal hygiene kits. We also have approximately 80 parish volunteers who will shop, cook and clean for our guests. 

Yesterday I visited with a well-established shelter for homeless people here in the city. It is called Loaves and Fishes. We will collaborate with them in the following way: Loaves and Fishes will meet the migrants at the Harlingen Bus Terminal where they have been brought by the U.S. Border Patrol after release from U.S. Immigration. They will bring the migrants to us so that they may select clean clothing (of which we have an abundance) and bring them to Loaves and Fishes to shower (since we have none). After showering and donning fresh clothes, Loaves and Fishes will bring them to us. Once they arrive, we will register them and assist them to purchase bus tickets to their destination (wherever they have family in the U.S.A.). They will stay with us overnight, receive three meals and a packed lunch-for-travel and then brought to the bus station in the morning. 

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Brownsville is helping us a great deal. From the news, you may be acquainted with Sister Norma Pimental. She seems to be the national face for migrant care and because of her work received the Laetare award from the University of Notre Dame. She has stationed three of her employees with us until we learn the ropes about managing this type of hospitality. The City of Harlingen and Cameron County are also helping a great deal. People from across the city are beginning to bring us donations. We have four Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul who live and worship in the parish. Three of them are nurses and one is a social worker. They will help us in the evenings after work at their own outreach center in Brownsville.

As things unfold and time permits, I’ll send updates. Meanwhile, donations of cash and items listed on our parish website (bottom of the homepage) are very welcome:

Please see the following video to learn more of this special effort to help our brothers and sisters in need:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the piece of news!
    I am glad that the congregation is open to receive and care for the migrants through some of you...
    It is the sign of our time.
    A Challenging yet welcoming ministry.
    My heart and memory reaches out to these people...
    God bless your effort.