On this beautiful September day, a group of people, committed to remembering and honoring our lost migrants, gathered in Brown Canyon of the Huachuca Mountains to pray for a woman, who within the past six weeks died as she traversed these treacherous canyons. We do not know her name, but we do know that she was loved by her family, who miss her terribly and who wait to hear news of what has happened on her journey to fulfill her dream of a better life.
This prayer was prayed for our unidentified traveler:
God of love and compassion: may we always recognize your spirit: in the refugee family, seeking safety from violence; in the migrant worker, bringing food to the tables; in the asylum-seekers, seeking justice for their families; in the unaccompanied child, traveling in a dangerous world.
Give us hearts that break open whenever our bothers and sisters turn to us.
Give us hearts that no longer turn deaf to their voices in times of need;
Give us eyes to recognize a moment for grace instead of a threat.
Give us voices that fail to remain silent but which decide instead to advocate prophetically.
Give us hands that reach out in welcome, but also in work, for a world of justice until all homelands are safe and secure. Bless us, O Lord. Father Dan Hartnett, SJ
VIRGINIA LIZBETH MEJIA MEJIA, age 18, lost her life soon after she climbed and jumped from the border wall into Naco, Arizona. Virginia walked just two miles before she was left behind by her group to fend for herself. No one can imagine how an 18 year old young woman could die so close to the small town of Naco, AZ, situated so near to the border wall. Maybe she was ill, maybe she had walked for days in Mexico traveling from her hometown in Michoacán. All we know is that she had a dream, a dream that ended so close to her home country.
We gathered at the prayer garden of the Sisters of St. Agnes, two miles from the border wall in Naco. We were accompanied by friends from Connecticut, who came to the borderlands to offer their medical expertise to various clinics in Mexico and to learn what they could about our life here on the border. We prayed that Virginia Lizbeth’s spirit would fly free and that her family would receive consolation, knowing she is with God.
MARCO HUGO HERNANDEZ TELLEZ, age 26 and from Michoacán, MX, crossed into the United States with the San Pedro River. He walked up the dry river bed and succumbed a number of miles into his journey suffering from dehydration. Today we planted his memorial cross at a peacefully serene spot along the green river bank—a river that today was flowing with life-giving water.
Today, we were accompanied by a group of Catholic Priests and Sisters who are participating in the Redemptorist Renewal Program in Tucson, AZ. We shared our deep desire and prayer for consolation for the family of Marco Hugo and pleaded with God for an end to the death in our desert and a conversion of heart for our elected leaders.
Overlooking the spot where Maria de la Cruz Ramirez Garcia crossed into the United States, we gathered, along with young people from the “High Rocks” young women’s empowerment program in West Virginia, to call to mind and heart the struggle of this 27 year old woman from Michoacán to fulfill her dream of a future full of hope for herself and family.
We prayed for Maria’s family and friends who, after 13 years of separation, still mourn the loss of this young, vibrant and courageous woman.
Fourteen year old Aisa Bargman, one of our “High Rocks” participants, shared her poem with us in honor of Maria de la Cruz. It is titled “Fear”. Here it is: Fear
OMAR GARCIA HERRERA, from Guatemala and 28 years old, was left behind to die near the Texas Canyon in the Dragoon Mountains. His family in Chicago was alerted and border patrol agents were sent out to search for him. On June 26 of this year the border patrol agents arrived too late, Omar had died alone, less than 1 km from Highway 191 near Dragoon, AZ.
Those who gathered today to remember Omar and his grieving family, will forever carry his dream of being reunited with his family in their hearts.
Under the hot desert sun of southern Arizona, 19 world citizens gathered to honor and pray for a woman who risked her life for the dream of a better life for herself and her family. Less than two months ago this unidentified woman walked through this rural neighborhood with her heart set on a place unknown to us, but known to her. She failed in her journey to make her life dream a reality, as she succumbed to the heat and unhospitable terrain of the Sonoran desert.
Young students from Germany, Colombia, South Africa and the US, participants in the Border Community Alliance of Ambos Nogales, accompanied us on this pilgrimage of remembrance. We also counted as a touching gift the expressed concern and support of local neighbors, who promised to care for and remember our fallen migrant.
A moving poem was written and read by one of our BCA participants:
Today, students from California State University Hayward joined us in remembering a man who lost his life trying to fulfill his dream of a better life for his family. His remains were found, in December of last year, near the Huachuca Mountains, which he probably traversed for many days.
We prayed for his eternal rest and for consolation and peace for his family who do not know where he is. May God have mercy on their aching hearts.
Article from Sierra Vista Herald Review by Emily Ellis:
The deaths of migrants in Cochise County continue. The remains of this unidentified man were found in an arroyo near the town of Benson, AZ. this past November. He was heading through the Dragoon Mountains to the Whetstone Mountains on his way to being reunited with his family. Now his family lives every day with the burden of NOTKNOWINGwhere he is…
May God have mercy on our country who so indifferently condemns men and women to death for the unforgivable sin of pursuing a better future for their children.
Today we remembered a woman, MARIA GRACIELA HERNANDEZ ESCOBEDO, probably a mother and maybe a grandmother, who now is enjoying full life with God. Those of us who gathered in the Mule Mountains, also remembered another woman, MARIA THERESA GERHARDINGER, who spent her life in service to people like MARIA GRACIELA, the vulnerable of our world. MARIAGRACIELA began her journey in Durango, MX with high hopes of reaching her dream of a fuller life for her family. MARIA THERESA began her life’s mission by founding the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Bavaria, Germany in 1833. Both woman began, in faith and hope, their challenging journey, knowing that God walked each step with them. Today we pray that both MARIA GRACIELA and MARIA THERESA may greet each other in the arms of a loving God.
“To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time”. Elie Wiesel, The Night
Today was a special day. It was a day to remember a man who lost his life unjustly in 2007, killed by a US Border Patrol Agent. FRANCISCO JAVIER DOMINGUEZ RIVERA, age 20, was shot by Agent Nicholas Corbett, as he attempted to jump over the border wall back into Mexico.
This week we are also saddened by the not guilty verdict in the murder of JOSE ANTONIO ELENA RODRIGUEZ, age 16, who was shot, through the bollard wall of the US/MX border, 10 times in the back and neck by Agent Lonny Swartz,