Humanitarian Respite Center on the Border | Catholic Extension

By | September 5, 2019

(contemplative guitar music plays) – [Cardinal Cupich] The
story of our salvation in Jesus begins with a story of refugees. The Holy Family were refugees. It’s at the core of who we are to make sure that those
who are on a journey are protected by the church and that we advocate on their behalf. We are a land of immigrants and they not only want to receive, but they want to give, and we lose something of our heritage, we lose something of our
character and our soul when we turn our back on immigrants. – [Bishop Flores ] The church’s
vision and understanding of the immigration of peoples and the kind of response
as a human response to human needs and human situations is going to be an issue
that will continue to be front and center in the life of the church in the United States. – [Narrator] Our Holy Father Pope Francis calls on us to consider
this global situation in human terms. The vast majority of these strangers, truly our brothers and sisters, are good people on the move, poor families struggling with poverty, experiencing violence and
enduring human rights violations. This speaks to the very heart of our American values as well, for being a haven for your tired, your poor, your huddled masses
yearning to breathe free. Chicago’s Archbishop Blaise
Cupich chose the occasion of his elevation to
Cardinal to raise funds for those providing
assistance along the border. – [Cardinal Cupich] I thought
it was a good opportunity to put the spotlight not on me but on the mission of Catholic Extension, and the work that’s being done by a lot of good people on the borders. – [Sr. Norma] What I see
is the need to respond to the dignity of the people that we see coming to our border
and that need our help. (melancholy guitar music) – I visited the detention facility back in 2014 when the
children were detained, and when I walked in there
they were all crying, asking me to please help them, to get them out of there, “Get me out of here. “I can’t breathe.” “I want my mother.” It is truly not at all political. It is who we are as human beings. (man speaking Spanish) – [Sr. Norma] When somebody is is totally against the
idea of helping someone, in this case, immigrants or refugees, all they have to do is come and see, and I’ve had that happen to me before where a lady comes over and says, “Sister I am 100 percent
against what you’re doing.” And I said let me show
you what I do and why. I had her walk with me through the area, and showed her the people, and the faces of the
families and the children, and then she turns around and tells me “I’m 100 percent in favor
of what you’re doing.” – [Narrator] Missionary of Jesus Sister Norma Pimentel works to meet the basic humanitarian needs of the large number of migrants who enter the U.S. legally
at the border crossing in McAllen, Texas. The people and families that arrive here have been processed at the border, and granted temporary legal status. They stay at the respite center for an average of 24
hours before moving on to their intended destinations in the U.S. Cardinal Cupich and a delegation
from Catholic Extension met with migrants who have just arrived. – [Cardinal Cupich] I went
and talked to each of them about where they came
from, who was with them, where they were going, to let them know that the church welcomed them, and would be ready to assist them in their own journey. That very human experience
stays with me probably the most. – [Sr. Norma] The people
that we are actually helping do have temporary legal status. People who are coming to our country are actually turning themselves in to the border patrol. They are asking for help. They are saying, “Help
me, I need protection. My life is not safe in my country.” They are from Salvador,
Guatemala, and Honduras. Those are the three main countries. Of course, we have seen from almost 30, 40 different countries that have come though our center since we have opened. People from China, from
Japan, from Africa, from everywhere, have
come through our doors. I think that we never should
feel that we have done enough because there is always more to do. – [Cardinal Cupich] I, Cardinal
Blaise Cupich of Chicago, humbly present this plaque commemorating a 100,000 dollar gift for the construction of this humanitarian respite center. I think of my grandparents,
who were also immigrants. They were helped by a lot of people when they landed in New York to come across the United States, settling in Omaha, Nebraska. It took a lot of people who volunteered, individuals who made a difference in allowing that to happen. So this is, in a way, payback. – [Bishop Flores] The
realities that we live on the Rio Grande river in
the Diocese of Brownsville, are realities of families that may in many instances have
been there for generations, influenced by the culture of Mexico, for historical reasons, and yet currently we’re seeing right now the phenomenon of immigration. We hear a lot of the
negative stuff that happens in some of our poorer communities, especially with the issue of immigration there’s a lot of rhetoric
that misses the point that we’re talking about people, and that people need to help people and help take care of people. When people have a chance to get together and encounter each other,
as the Holy Father says, then the work of grace
can bear great fruit. – [Narrator] The past five years alone, Catholic Extension has provided more than twelve million dollars to help build up and strengthen
the Catholic community in the U.S. Mexico border region. Since it’s founding, donors
to Catholic Extension have given 120 million
dollars to the dioceses along the border, a
place that is home today to more than four million Catholics from very diverse backgrounds. Catholic Extension is
there to serve them all. – [Cardinal Cupich] The
work of Catholic Extension in helping those dioceses,
also those churches, those bishops, who live day to day with the experience of immigrants coming in to their own
diocese and their local church is an opportunity for us to link people throughout this country who
don’t have that experience. What Catholic Extension is doing is stretching the imagination
and the understanding of Catholics who are donating to it to help its wonderful work
beyond their own way of thinking. It’s an opportunity
that we offer to people for conversion of heart
to grow in their faith. – [Bishop Flores] We’re living
up to the best tradition of what Catholicism has
been in the United States, which has been a Catholicism that has been open to the immigrant from
wherever they may be coming, whether it’s Europe, or
Asia, or the Philippines, or Africa. This is really sort of
the dynamism of our time, and we have to as a church be a people who put always the human face of Christ in front of us first. – [Narrator] The U.S. Catholic church has a long and proud tradition of being an immigrant church, extending mercy and
welcoming the stranger. Support of these ministries is central to the historic role of Catholic Extension in building up the Catholic
church across the United States.

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