Students Experience Sisters’ Ministry at U.S.-Mexico Border

Students from Notre Dame of Maryland University (NDMU) spent Holy Week in 2016 with School Sisters of Notre Dame in Arizona who minister on the U.S.-Mexico border. The Mission Awareness Process (MAP) program offers participants the opportunity to learn more about migrant concerns while exploring life in a diverse border community.

Here, we share some of their reflections, insights and images from the week.


Rae Borsetti, a graduate student at NDMU was struck by the “700 miles of wall out of 2,000 miles of border. The human toll of the wall is well documented as migrants hiking through deserts die daily of dehydration and exposure. Today, I learned about the impact of the walls on wildlife whose migration patterns have been interrupted. Communities have been divided; businesses who used to have customers on both sides have lost out. One desert, one sunset, never ours to divide.” (Rae’s photos are on the right.)

Sister Judy Bourg (center) talks to participants in the SSND Mission Awareness Process program about the border fence between the United States and Mexico. From left, Diana Ramirez, Lillian Doyle, Sister Judy Bourg, Sister Helen Jones, and Sister Linda Stilling.

Sharing a Glimpse of Their Journey

Leaving water for those making the crossing.

At an obelisk marking the border. Pictured from left are Diana Ramirez, Lillian Doyle, Larraine Ruiz, Rae Borsetti, and Sister Linda Stilling, SSND.


As she stood at the U.S.-Mexico border where she filmed this video (above), Diana Ramirez was moved by the realization that at the spot where she was standing “many have died trying to cross all because of the unnecessary wall.” After sharing the video, she received a call from a friend who told her that was where she and her mom crossed into the United States. “At that point I started to cry, and though I will never be in the same position, my heart went out to them.”


For NDMU student Lillian Doyle, Holy Thursday was a day of spiritual connection. “First, we visited Douglas Prieta, the women’s cooperative farm,” she said. “Some of the women shared their quilting work, and testimonies about how the co-op has blessed them personally. Later that afternoon, to celebrate Holy Thursday, we had a lunch at the Taller de Carpintería. After lunch, everyone had the opportunity to participate in a foot washing ceremony.” (Lillian’s photos are on the right.)


“We had a busy day today, but what impacted me the most was the Healing our Border Vigil,” said NDMU student Larraine Ruiz. “We had at least 20 people in the group, with different religious backgrounds and from different places. Together, we remembered these individuals who crossed and lost their lives in the desert.” During the weekly vigil in Douglas, Arizona, participants hold up crosses bearing the names of those who died while trying to cross the border into the United States. (Larraine’s photos are below.)

Women share their quilting work at the co-op.

Participating in a foot-washing ceremony.