Praying, marching, protesting
School Sisters of Notre Dame who live at the border in Douglas, Arizona, have been marching, praying and protesting with the SOA Watch Border Convergence, this weekend (Oct. 7-10, 2016) at the U.S.-Mexico border. The SSNDs in Douglas are Sisters Judy Bourg, Helen Jones, Lucy Nigh and Patricia Ferrick.
The border is an important issue, and as advocates for justice, the sisters and others participating in the event are speaking out for immigration reform and raising awareness about the tragedy of too many deaths in the desert. They are asking for fundamental changes in U.S. policies.
Sister Patricia said that what impressed her most about the experience and what gives her hope is the vast number of people who have given time, resources and talent for the cause of peace and justice. Organizations such as the SSND's Douglas Border Advocates for Justice, as well as Veterans for Peace and No More Deaths were all united to stop the militarization of the border.
"The people here are from all parts of the U.S., Mexico and Central America, from different congregations and ideologies, and marching under different banners," Sister Patricia said. "A very poignant moment for me was an act at the border which included huge puppets portraying the life and death and resurrection of border crossers. At the end, a huge hand on a pole on the Mexican side of the wall joined hands with a hand on the U.S. side. We are one family!"
Calling all to oneness to raise consciousness
Sisters Patricia Ferrick (left) and Judy Bourg (right) join with other justice advocates at the SOA Watch Border Convergence.
On Saturday, about 50 women religious from different congregations, including the School Sisters of Notre Dame, gathered at the Kino Initiative kitchen in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.
"In this time of collaboration we shared around the question, 'What can we do together in light of the issues surrounding immigration?'" said Sister Lucy. "We do our small but important parts of direct service and legislative action. Together and collaboratively, we need to take up our power, call people to oneness in raising consciousness about family separation, death in the desert, worker injustice, militarization of the border and human rights around migration."
The SSNDs also attended Mass with the bishop of Nogales on the street where 16 year-old Jose Antonio was shot and killed four years ago by a border patrol agent standing on the United States' side of the border.
"The innocent face of this boy haunts me," Sister Lucy said. "His picture now hangs on the cliff wall below the border fence. It is good that my country has laws and enforcement. I cannot, however be silent, when some agents of the law take their righteousness too far."
Crossing the border and action at checkpoints
Sister Lucy Nigh (third from right) met with 50 women religious from different congregations gathered at the Kino Initiative kitchen in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, where they discussed, "What can we do together in light of the issues surrounding immigration?"
On Sunday, the SSNDs are participating in a solemn procession with crosses to the border. The Border Convergence on Sunday also will include a direct action to protest the checkpoints on the roads 90 miles up from the border. The SSNDs are accompanied by other members of the Douglas Advocates for Justice, including Karen Fasimpaur.
"One of the things we were struck by was the participation by a broad spectrum of diverse movements, not just immigration," said Karen. "It was gratifying to be around people with the same commitment and common values, but we're left wondering how all these disparate organizations can coordinate to bring about meaningful change. This may be the next evolution of this movement."
For the past 18 months, the sisters have been leading concerned citizens of both the United States and Mexico on a Pilgrimage of Remembrance
, planting a cross at the sites of the remains of persons who lost their lives in the desert of Cochise County, Arizona. They also participate in Healing our Borders vigils
SSNDs have participated in the SOA Watch demonstration at Fort Benning, Georgia, almost since its beginning in 1990. Originally a protest over human rights' abuses committed by some graduates of the School of the Americas or under their leadership, the annual gathering has moved to Nogales, Arizona, this year. Here the focus will highlight U.S. intervention in Latin America as one of the root causes of migration.
October 7-10, 2016