‘One heart’ in welcoming migrants - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Summer 2023 newsletter


Coralis Salvador, U.S.-Mexico Border

Assisting a migrant in filling out his I-589 form during a workshop at Annunciation House.

Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people.
—Karen Salmansohn

Bishop Seitz called a coordination meeting with religious and nonprofit groups prior the lifting of Title 42.

Greetings from El Paso. This second quarter has been filled with amazing events.

Bishop Mark Seitz called a meeting with all religious and collaborators to share the El Paso diocese’s plan prior to the lifting of Title 42, which was effective May 11. Some of the plan’s major goals were: to provide accurate communications and narrative support; to expand parish-based hospitality; to recruit hospitalilty ministers and emergency humanitarian assistance to assist vulnerable migrants in Ciudad Juárez.

It was good to be reminded that we are definitely “one heart” in welcoming migrants here in El Paso.

Beginning in April, Sacred Heart Parish’s Casa Sagrado de Corazon responded by opening its shelter all day. Since shelters were unable to accommodate the large numbers of migrants, many of them, mostly men, ended up sleeping in make shift blanket-tents around Sacred Heart. They were, however, provided with meals and basic necessities. The city provided police security and portable toilets.

Annunciation House held a workshop that was led by my fellow Maryknoll lay missioner Sister Deirdre Griffin, who is a lawyer. Deirdre trained us volunteers on how to help migrants fill out their asylum application forms (I-589). Submitting this form on the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, allows the applicant to receive their ID number. With that ID number, they can move out of El Paso to travel to their final destination in the U.S.

Encuentro participants from Mt. St. Michael’s High School at the Sacred Heart Parish shelter

It took me a day’s work with José (not his real name), a migrant from Honduras, to fill it out. José spoke only in his native language, and the form had to be filled out in English. The smartphone translation app was a major help for us. Finally by 7 p.m., José hit submit on the application button and got an immediate acknowledgment number. It was a long, hard but good day.

It was great to host the Encuentro Project participants from Mount St Michael’s High School in the Bronx, New York; and Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina. They volunteered at Holy Family Shelter and at Sacred Heart. Serving and getting to know the migrants were a big highlight of their immersion trip.

At Sacred Heart a mother of three showed them the videos she had recorded on her journey from Venezuela through many towns on their way to El Paso. She only recorded their positive experiences and encounters. She wants her children to focus on good memories and not on the traumatic experiences. She was a remarkable mother, with foresight for the care of her children.

The ‘J³ team’ of Jill, Judy and Julie during MIP

For the first time in our history, Maryknoll Lay Missioners conducted our Mission Integration Program in El Paso. It is a two-week program that accompanies returning lay missioners as they remember, honor and learn from their mission experiences through reflections, retreat, prayers, sharing, etc.

Three missioners took part: Jill Foster, who served for three and a half years in Haiti; Judy Walter who had served for more than 12 years in Kenya and Tanzania; and Julie Lawler, who has renewed her contract to return to her ministry in Cambodia. We value and are so grateful for their ministries and the impact they have had in their communities and with others.

Until my next newsletter, I thank you for your partnership, donations and prayers that support our ministries. Should you have two weeks’ free time, come and join us in this ministry. Together we are bringing God’s kingdom here and now.

Much love and many blessings,

Please consider joining our circle of COMPANIONS IN MISSION. Companions in Mission are generous donors, like you, who give financial gifts on a regular (usually monthly) basis. For more information visit  Become a Companion in MissionThank 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?