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The U.S.-Mexico border and the issue of immigration are flashpoint topics in the United States today. “A surge of migrants.” “Crisis at the border.” “Migrant caravans coming.” These phrases pepper the media headlines.
At the same time, the Catholic Church in its teaching, in statements from the bishops, and especially from Pope Francis, has advocated for the care and support of migrants. Many parishes and faith-based organizations are first responders to migrants in their journey to and within the U.S.
There are many stories along the border that are worth telling to help overcome unhelpful misunderstandings and generalizations that dominate border-related rhetoric in the U.S. With the Jesuit Border Podcast, we hope to do just that.
We are a pair of recently ordained Jesuit priests. For our first mission, we have been sent to the diocese of Brownsville, TX, to work in the Rio Grande Valley along the U.S.-Mexico border. We didn’t move into an established Jesuit community- we just rented a house and got to work.
For ministry, we have been asked to respond to local pastoral needs, including helping at a pair of local parishes, working at Catholic Charities’ Humanitarian Respite Center (HRC) for migrants in McAllen, visiting migrants living in tents in the plaza of Reynosa, Mexico, and joining unaccompanied minors from local migrant detention centers for Mass every Sunday. It has been an eye-opening experience.
To be clear, we’re not from the border, and we don’t pretend to be experts on immigration law. In fact, the first thing we learned upon arriving in Brownsville was just how little we really know. It feels like we’re always at least two steps behind (if not more!). But as a pair of new arrivals, we’re trying to learn something new every day. And we want to share what we’re learning, along with the reality that we witness in our daily lives here.
This is the inspiration for the Jesuit Border Podcast. The podcast consists of weekly episodes that highlight stories from our ministry on the border. Episodes will also feature an interview with someone particularly involved in the Catholic response to the on-the-ground reality.
For the first season, each episode will draw from one of the themes of Catholic Social Teaching. The first episode focuses on the life and dignity of the human person and includes an interview with Bishop Daniel Flores of the Diocese of Brownsville.
The podcast will be a mixture of storytelling, fact sharing, and theological reflection. Hopefully, the tone will be diverse enough to capture the reality on the border – difficult as well as hopeful, reflections on life and beauty as well as reflections on extreme suffering. Principally, our goal is to show the tremendous Catholic response to the border situation through the eyes of the people who walk with migrants day after day.