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Lent 2023 newsletter


Coralis Salvador, U.S.-Mexico Border

Sacred Heart Parish provided food and shelter for the December 2022 wave of mostly Venezuelan migrants in its gym.

Nothing can bring one greater happiness than doing God’s will.
St. Miguel Febres Cordero

Sacred Heart Parish – Casa de Sagrado Corazon: In December El Paso was inundated with migrants, mostly coming from Venezuela. Sacred Heart Parish, where I volunteer, immediately responded to this influx. It converted its gym to an overnight shelter serving 120 to 150 families and women. We sheltered them from 6 p.m. in the evening to 8 a.m. in the morning. We provided supper, breakfast, blankets serving as mattresses, coats, clothes and basic toiletries as well as a place to shower.

Encuentro Project students from the University of Detroit Mercy cook a meal at Casa de Sagrado Corazon.

Together with our network of hospitals, and clinics we were also able to immediately minister to the very sick children and adults. The migrants appreciated this “homey” respite. They felt the compassion and understanding of the volunteers.

In addition, the migrants who could not be sheltered were given food, blankets and coats.

Today that large influx has subsided, but our shelter continues to serve migrants with the help of donors, other church denominations and non-profit organizations. God is good.

The Encuentro Project: Student participants from the University of Detroit Mercy took a volunteer shift at the Casa de Sagrado Corazon. They planned, shopped, cooked and served dinner for almost 200 migrants.

They shared how serving at the shelter and having dinner with the migrants was the best part of their border immersion experience.

El Paso community: A recent highlight in our El Paso community was the Border Heroes celebration of the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, where two of my fellow lay missioners work. The Oct. 8 event honored four “Border Heroes” who have unselfishly dedicated their lives to serving marginalized migrants, refugees and impoverished people.

Celebrating Sr. Beatrice Donnellan, S.H.Sp. (center, in the blue jacket)

Sister Beatrice Donnellan, a Sister of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate, was one of the three honorees. At 88 years, she continues to show her big warm heart and compassion to all, especially the poor and the migrants. It’s a blessing to be working with her at the Annunciation House shelters Casa Vides and Casa Papa Francisco. She is a living angel.

As for my own spiritual journey, I attended a 32-day retreat at Mepkin Abbey, South Carolina, at the beginning of this year. It was an amazing experience — a journey to my center. Guided by a spiritual companion, I learned for the first time the Ignatian Exercises. It was a luxury to be away from life’s busyness and spend time in silence, reflecting and contemplating as well as sitting in meditation. I also joined the monks in some of their daily prayers.

I realized how we can even more deeply be part of God’s team to build God’s Kingdom in the here and now. The Kingdom is not a location but manifests itself when, with our hearts and minds, we make God present through our deeds and relationships with one another and with all of God’s creations.

As St. Teresa of Ávila said: We are the body (hands, feet, mouth) of Christ.

Until next time, thank you for being part of our ministry. Please know that you are daily in my heart and prayers.

Much love and many blessings,

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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?