‘My life is my message’ - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Fall 2022 newsletter


Coralis Salvador, U.S.-Mexico Border

Soccer at Casa Vides

Greetings with love from the U.S.-Mexico border!

Nonviolence is Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ new cross-cutting focus. It stresses rooting out, first and foremost, violence from oneself, from one’s interaction with others and the environment.

Ramona with one of the bags she knitted

Often nonviolence is perceived as passive resistance. I personally see it as another way to love, give goodwill and service. In addition, it calls me to a simple way of living and to seek social improvement in the lives of the oppressed section of the population. Our ministries at the border enable me to live this out. To quote Mahatma Gandhi, “My life is my message.”

In July, Casa Vides opened its doors again to eight abuelitas — they’re widows of U.S. citizens or residents but lived in Mexico. To receive their share from their late husbands’ social security pensions, they must show proof of one month of U.S. residency twice a year. The majority of the abuelitas have no U.S. relative and live in pueblos in the interior of Mexico, from where the bus fare is costly. They have limited resources and cannot afford to pay U.S. board and lodging.

At Casa Vides, we welcome them to stay for this duration. I’ve developed close relationshiops with them and admire their strong spirit and determination for life. On their own accord, they pitch in, especially with the upkeep of the house, preparing meals, and babysitting to give breaks to young single mothers. Work is easier with their assistance.

Ramona, one of them, is good with stitching and knitting. She has made bags and skull caps for the volunteers. My question is: Why does the Office of Social Security Benefits make life so difficult for these women?

A family of six has been with us since April, while waiting for documentation that will allow them to move on. In the meantime, Casa Vides has enrolled the children upon school opening in July—one in elementary, two in high school and one in the community college. Should you be open to assisting or sponsoring them to start a new life in your locality, it would be a great blessing to this family.

From left: Heidi, Debbie, Deirdre and Coralis

Since the closure in July of Casa del Refugiado, the participants of our Encuentro group have moved to volunteer at Casa Vides. They plan the menu for dinner, shop, prep/cook the meal, and bring their three course meal to the shelter to serve our guests. One of our high school groups took time to play soccer with the kids. Noticing that we did not have soccer balls, they bought balls and a set of goals. Other guests cheered them on during the game.

In August we welcomed our director of mission, Elvira Ramirez, and her husband, John Rischiek, to live in El Paso. Maryknoll Lay Missioners is transfering some of its mission services to El Paso and will expand our ministry at the border. Currently we are four lay missioners (Heidi, Debbie, Deirdre and I), educating, advocating and serving in many different ways to bring about nonviolence.

Until my next time, many blessings to you and all your endeavors. I am grateful for your partnership in our mission.

Have a happy fall! 🍁 Much love,


Please consider making a special gift to Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ “Walk With Us” campaign, which raises money for the recruitment, training and ongoing support of all of us lay missioners. We can only “walk with” the people here because you are “walking with” us. Thanks to matching gifts, every $100 given to the campaign in effect becomes $150. To donate ONLINE, click the “Walk With Us” button below. Thank you so much for your generosity!


Coralis Salvador
Coralis is a community volunteer at a shelter for asylum seekers released from ICE or CBP detentions and at “La Tilma” feeding program of Sacred Heart Church in El Paso, Texas. She previously served with Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Kenya for 19 years. She is the co-author of the Orbis book What’s So Blessed About Being Poor?