Radical unity compels solidarity - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Pentecost (Salvadoran folk art)

They were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.  
—Acts 2:4

The great wisdom of Pentecost is the recognition, through the Spirit, of an underlying deeper unity amidst all people. Julian of Norwich called it a “one-ing.” “The love of God,” she wrote, “creates in us such a one-ing that when it is truly seen, no person can separate themselves from another person.”

The feast of Pentecost proclaims that we really are one. We are one in both suffering and resurrection. Jesus’ final prayer is that we may live this radical union now in our own lives.

In this spirit of Pentecost, Maryknoll Lay Missioners go “to the ends of the earth” to work with communities sharing God’s love, accompanying those on the margins, and working to build a more just and compassionate world.

Today, as migrants and asylum seekers are fleeing violence and poverty and coming to our southern border pleading for help, Maryknoll Lay Missioners are there to welcome and assist them. Many of the migrants are escaping for their lives and have been further traumatized on their long travels to this country. Will you help them on their journey to find freedom and a safe home? 

Heidi Cerneka, one of our missioners, who works as an immigration attorney in El Paso, shares the story of one her clients whom she recently helped:

After a very quick initial interview with an asylum officer, Yussif was denied asylum  and scheduled for deportation. At that first interview, he had to demonstrate “credible fear” (i.e., convince the officer that he had enough of a case for asylum.)

Yussif’s problem was that he was afraid to talk about why he had fled his country. After having been threatened and beaten by officials in his home country, he was terrified of authority. Then in the U.S., he was shackled hand and foot while being transported from one detention center to another (even though he has never committed a crime and came here to the U.S. to beg for protection). He was traumatized by that and so would not talk about his case with any detail.

I arranged for a psychologist to do an assessment. He was able to open up and talk about his traumatic experience. I requested that he be given another interview with me present, or just the chance to go before the judge. Within three days, his case was reopened and scheduled to go forward with an asylum claim.

Once on the verge of deportation to the very country he had fled after threats and beatings, now Yussif has a chance to prove his case.

Sadly, 80% of migrants do not have lawyers like Heidi at their asylum hearings. Says Heidi, “I am profoundly grateful to be at the border, defending people who have no one else advocating for them.”


Also, at the border in El Paso, Maryknoll lay missioner Coralis Salvador works at Casa Vides, one of several Annunciation House shelters, where she joins others in housing and helping migrant families who are on their way to their new homes. The kids are so resilient — they make the best of every situation.

“I took a big T-shirt and wrapped it around Pedro’s neck as a shawl/cape,” said Coralis. “He was thrilled and imagined himself to be Batman. Along with his sister and a friend, they became superheroes (Superman & Wonder Woman). It was joyous to see them having fun with simple stuff.”

After Pentecost, one thing that kept the apostles going, Pope Francis said, was “the desire to give what they received…. By loving humbly, serving freely and joyfully, we will offer to the world the true image of God.” 

From serving as attorneys for asylum seekers to providing temporary shelter and other necessities for migrants, from organizing border immersion experiences for church groups and advocating for humane immigration policies to feeding hungry and homeless adults and children — Maryknoll lay missioners are accompanying and providing crucial services for vulnerable migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

As the numbers of migrants coming to the border will continue to increase, your support for Maryknoll Lay Missioners will make a profound difference for people who have already suffered and endured so much.   

Thank you for your generous support in the past. Your gift today will continue to change lives. Please help welcome the least of our brothers and sisters as they journey to find a safe home among us. May God bless you and your family.

Together in mission,

Ted Miles
Executive Director


Maryknoll Lay Missioners
Compelled by faith to engage with people across cultures and ethnicities, Maryknoll lay missioners live, love and work with communities on the margins to promote active nonviolence and healing.