Help us 'welcome the stranger' - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Migrants are receiving a meal at Casa Vides, one of the Annunciation House shelters in El Paso, Texas.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, 
I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Mt 25:35).

Dear friends,

As we celebrate Pentecost, we remember John 14:26 and the promise Jesus made to us: “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

Throughout the world there are many situations where this guidance and advocacy is needed. One example that comes to mind is the very urgent humanitarian challenges on the U.S-Mexico border.

Well-meaning people on both sides continue to disagree over what to do — while women and men, children and families arrive each day, their eyes full of fear but their hearts full of hope.

I am not a politician. I do not have the policy answers to resolve this conflict. What I do have is everything Jesus said to us about love, about compassion, about welcoming the stranger. Pentecost brings us the opportunity to listen to the Spirit.

How we treat one another is at the core of our belief. It is why, every day, our four lay missioners along the border — three on the U.S. side and one on the Mexican side — continue to meet the humanitarian needs of migrants, and give them all the guidance we know how.

Please make a gift to support our lay missioners on the border, and around the world, that they may continue to answer God’s call to service:



Deirdre Griffin is one of our lay missioners serving on the border. Each day, she does her best to advise new arrivals as to what their rights are under the law. Your generosity helps make her work possible.

Deirdre with migrant

Deirdre with a migrant guest at Casa Papa Francisco in El Paso

“As a Maryknoll lay missioner,” she says, “I have the flexibility to engage this space of tremendous human vulnerability and legal complexity.”

She adds: “I can take the time to sit with families who have survived harrowing suffering in their home countries and arduous journeys to reach the United States alive — and are now staring blankly at more than 10 pages of legal information in English, a language they do not yet understand.”

Imagine being in this situation, having traveled hundreds or thousands of miles on your harrowing journey, and now staring uncomprehending at a stack of paperwork … knowing that your life, and your children’s lives, will be determined by your ability to complete this task.

For we know that hundreds, even thousands, who have been turned away, have then lost their lives.

As Deirdre says, “The procedural requirements laid out in those papers can be a map that leads to either life or death for them and that helps or hinders their international right to pursue a claim for asylum, to request protection.”

The law is complex. The border discussions are contentious. I have even heard ugly things said about us, and our work, that I know to be untrue. There is so much that I cannot hope to solve in my letter to you today.

What I do have is faith. Faith speaks to us in ways the loud voices arguing back and forth do not. And faith will continue to guide us along the paths of compassion, nonviolence and hope.

As long as it is within our power, we will continue to serve God’s children with dignity, with respect, and with love. We will heed the words that Jesus has said, and keep the promise we have made.

Thank you for considering a generous gift today!

In hope and shared purpose,

Elvira Ramirez
Executive Director

Please donate here to support our lay missioners on the border, and around the world:

A video interview with Deirdre Griffin, who works as an immigration lawyer at the border:

Elvira Ramirez
Elvira Ramirez is Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ executive director.