Franciscan Sister Leonette Kochan shares recent efforts in immigration awareness in the Catholic Diocese of Tucson.
Summary- Friday, April 4
On April 1 at 9:00 AM, 10 bishops and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston gathered to celebrate an outsoor, bilingual Mass at the border in Nogales, AZ, a city separated from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico by a divisive wall. Sisters Catherine Gilles, Carla Riach and Leonette Kochan from San Xavier Mission, Tucson, were privileged to attend the liturgy. The Mass was the culmination of a visit by the bishops from border dioceses, representing the United States Conference of Catholic Biships Migration and Refugee Services Committee. A simultaneous Mass was also held in solidarity in San Luis, AZ and San Luis, Mexico.
In the words of Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, the purpose of the visit and Mass was two-fold: to experience and learn to some extent the plight of people struggling to enter this country to find a better life and to remember those who have lost their lives along the border in Arizona and elsewhere; to call, again, for comprehensive immigration reform as well as to encourage our president and members of Congress to take action to prevent the needless deaths of so many people along the border, to prevent the separation of families and to provide a means of hope of citizenship for the thousands of people who want to contribute to our community but are living in the shadows because they lack the proper documentation.
Among the profound experiences of the Mass, several stood out as exceptionally powerful. During the distribution of Communion both Cardinal O’Malley and Bishop Kicanas extended their hands and the Eucharist to individuals who reached through the wall seeking Communion and compassionate recognition. The backdrop behind the altar for the liturgy was the tall, disturbing wall, unattractive in both appearance and symbolism. During the presentation of the gifts, Sister Carla was chosen to carry a cross bearing the name of an immigrant who died in the desert, representing all who have died needlessly. At the conclusion of the Mass, Cardinal O’Malley laid a large floral wreath at the wall in memory of all who have died.
The two-day visit of the bishops included; an opening Mass at San Xavier Mission on March 31; a walk through the desert where shoes and backpacks belonging to migrants could be seen as they walked along; a meeting with the U.S. Border Patrol in Nogales, AZ; a visit to a soup kitchen, run by the Jesuit Kino Border Initiative, in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Here the bishops served warm meals to young men who seek to enter the U.S. to be reunited with their families; a press conference following the Mass.
Bishops in attendance were: Bp. Gerald Kicanas, Tucson, Bp. Mark Seitz, El Paso, Aux. Bp. Luis Zarama, Atlanta, Bp. Cirillo Flores, San Diego, Bp. John Wester, Salt Lake City, Bp. Emeritus Gerardo Flores, Verapaz, Guatamala, Archbp. Ulises Macia Salcedo, Hermosillo, Mexico, Bp Oscar Cantu, Las Cruces, Bp. Emeritus Ricardo Ramirez, Las Cruces, Aux. Bp. Eusebio Elizondo, Seattle – Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Boston.
Wednesday, April 2
Yesterday the Bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration and Refugee Services, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFMCap of the Archdiocese of Boston, myself and several priests celebrated a beautiful Mass at the International Border wall in Nogales, Arizona. There were about 700 people with us on the U.S. side, and another 200 or so people on the Sonora side.
Our Mass was to remember all those who have died seeking a better life in the U.S., those who have died – Americans and others – as a result of the current situation along the border and those who have been separated by border issues. Bishops also came together to urge our national leaders to take action on comprehensive immigration reform.
Click here to read Homily–Cardinal-Seán-OMalley
Monday, March 31
I just want to let you know that the Sisters at San Xavier will be attending this Mass at the Border tomorrow – see Border Mass English and Spanish . This morning Bishop Kicanas and about 10 bishops from the USCCB conference on immigration, USCCB reps. and lots of media had Mass at San Xavier Mission. Right now, the bishops are on a desert walk, to identify a bit with the immigrants who cross the desert. Cardinal O’Malley is arriving later today.
Prayer for safety and success of all efforts. The children from Lourdes, Nogalas, are attending, singing, and high school students will be speaking from their experience with the Jesuit’s Kino Border Initiative. They are very involved in that program, which helps displaced families at the border. USCCB will be interviewing them. The Mass will be live streamed tomorrow.