In less than 2 weeks, 8 Ursuline Summer Volunteers will gather for a week of service at the Humanitarian Respite Center sponsored by Catholic Charities in McAllen, Texas. The group includes students and alums of Ursuline schools in St. Louis and New York who know well the meaning of SERVIAM–I will serve.
The byline for our place of service is: Restoring Human Dignity on the Border. We will share in this mission as we help create hope and restore dignity to the most vulnerable among us. We expect to sort donated clothing, clean, sweep, mop, make sandwiches, clean showers and bathrooms, make soup and prepare for the afternoon rush—that rush being when the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement brings guests by bus from their holding center. Recently, 500 to 900 people a day have arrived. We’ll be on call to assist families, children, and regular staff in whatever ways possible.
How will we restore human dignity? Well, stay tuned, because we’ll be blogging right here during the week. I imagine our efforts will include Spanish greetings and smiles of welcome; provision of a change of clothing, toothbrushes, chapstick, food; babysitting and playing games with children; and a loving sendoff to the bus station for the next leg of the journey.
It’s hard to imagine doing all this without also experiencing heartbreak. Our service group will take time each evening to reflect, pray together, and draw strength from words of Jesus and of St. Angela. We’ll be support for one another. We’ve chosen to be together for this week because we share values that are rooted in our Ursuline spirit of service and our deep desire for human dignity for all persons. We’ll keep before us the wisdom of Pope Francis:
Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women, and men who leave or are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.