By Presentation Sister Máire Sullivan
On the morning of January 2, Presentation Sisters Lucia Lodolo and Máire Sullivan, and Mercy Sisters Kathleen Kearney and Martha Larsen started out on our journey to the refugee center in San Diego. This opportunity came about at the end of December and we wanted to be of help in any way we could to offer support to those who were journeying here for safety and for a better life for their families. As we all know, it is a time of great suffering and danger for those on this journey.
We started out early in the morning and got to San Diego in the early evening. We were staying with the Sisters of Mercy in an apartment that they have in San Diego. Needless to say, we were happy to get there after our long ride from San Francisco. We had a great sleep that night.
On Thursday morning, January 3, we reported to the center and began our service there. Sister Lucia and I began with child care. We took care of children aged from about two years to early teens. They were beautiful children, tired after a long and strenuous journey from Guatemala, Honduras and other areas. We were with the children in a large room with lots of toys, art supplies and, of course, a TV. Parents came in and out and we met wonderful families so dedicated to their children. The children were very well behaved and very loving. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be with them.
In the afternoon, we traded duties with Sisters Martha and Kathleen and we sorted clothes. Our days at the center were quite full of activity and lovely people.
The center in San Diego is an amazing place with wonderful, compassionate staff and volunteers and people journeying to receive asylum and moving on to families throughout the United States. Their stay is from one to five days and from 50 to 100 people were brought to the center every night. Many people crossed our paths daily and there was much affection given and received.
On Sunday, Sisters Martha, Kathleen and I were able to cross over into Tijuana and Rosarita Beach where we saw the original walls and learned a great deal from the border angels who have worked with those on the journey for years.
The descriptions that we have been hearing about in the media were not what we experienced in our travels. We met only gentle and loving families trying to build a better life – we saw no drug dealers or other criminal types on either side of the border.
Stories were abundant and brought us to tears on many occasions. Faith and strength were evident in the people that we met. Our week in San Diego was an experience I will not forget. It was heartrending and heartening at the same time. I/we will never forget the people we met and they will continue in our prayers.
I am grateful to have gone and hope to go again if the need or opportunity arises.