JOSE ANTONIO BECERRA TOLOZA, age 32, died in 2009 after walking many days in the Huachuca Mountains. How sad and tragic that this young man’s dreams came to an end on the property of a US Army Fort where thousands of people live.
Today we read a poem written by Saulo Padilla, whose 19 year old nephew was killed as he rode atop the train (the “bestia”) as he traveled to the US/MX border. We prayed for peace for Jose Antonio and Saulo’s nephew and consolation for their families.
We also prayed with Saulo that God would “sow seeds of peace and justice in the hearts and minds of those who resist their journey”.
Before the monsoon rains fell, a few, yet committed, people gathered on Hwy. 90, which runs parallel to the Whetstone Mountains, to remember and pray for an unidentified man who lost his life pursuing a dream for his family. May he fly high with the eagles and may his family find peace even in his absence.
Six University students from around the country, who are part of the Border CommunityAlliance internship program in Nogales, AZ, joined us today to remember and pray for RAZIEL BOLAÑOS SANCHEZ, age 23, who was hit and killed by a car on Hwy. 191 in 2005. We pray that this unnecessary death in our desert will end and that all people who search for a better life for themselves and their families will be welcomed and treated with the respect they deserve.
On one of the hottest days in Arizona history, eighteen women, men and children braved the scorching desert near Cochise Stronghold of the Dragoon Mountains to remember and honor ANDRES RAMIREZ ORTIZ, age 35 and his hurting family. We also remembered all humanitarian aid organizations who, because of their commitment to put an end to migrant deaths, tirelessly carry water and food daily into our brutal desert.
Although we were small in number, we gathered to remember our friend, ANA MARIA VANEGAS VAZQUEZ, age 34, whose remains were found in 2015. This was the first time we placed a cross in an oak forest where the silence and the shade was a beautiful gift as we prayed and recalled the sad journey of Ana Maria.
A small but committed group, with hearts broken open by the pain of the passing of ELEAZAR CIFUENTES DIAZ, age 40, traveled a long distance to the northern section of the Whetstone Mountains, near Sierra Vista. We traveled this distance looking for the location where Eleazar’s remains were discovered, just a mere 6 months ago after four or more days of walking through the Sonoran desert. We prayed that he would be at peace and his family, who miss him so greatly, would have some semblance of consolation at his loss.
Today, on Good Friday, we went out to the desert of Douglas, AZ to recall the death of NORA HUERTAS HERNANDEZ, age 19, who collapsed one mile after crossing the US/MX border. Nora was found near a Douglas neighborhood, where neighbors called 911 to respond to her dire need. She was taken to St. Mary’s hospital in Tucson where she did not survive the trauma her body had suffered from the extreme heat of an Arizona July.
Just as Jesus, also a migrant on this earth, suffered death to bring full life to us all, Nora suffered death because of her deep desire to bring a fuller life to her family.
In our group we were blessed with the presence of 5 young people serving the vulnerable population of Tucson and with three young children and their caregiver who drove over from Bisbee to share in our prayer for Nora and her family.
Take a moment to read and reflect on this poem that Sister Pat shared with us today:
Today our journey to remember JOSE JIMENEZ LUCAS was short, just a few miles outside of Douglas in the Perilla Mountains. Jose did not walk very far from the border wall before he was overcome by the August Arizona heat and the numerous prickly cactus that covers this desert mountain. May he be enjoying full life and may his family feel the peace of the love of God in their loss.
Joining us in prayer today were two friends from Canada, a country that generously welcomes migrants and refugees as they journey to safety and a more whole life, and three friends from Arizona, Montana and Virginia. Their prayers and presence were deeply appreciated.
Today a small group of faithful participants journeyed out to the Whetstone Mountains to pray and remember JUAN BAUTISTA CAMACHO PEREZ, age 29, whose remains were found three years ago in the desert as he walked the path to fulfilling his dream for a better life for himself and his family. May God grant him eternal peace and his family deep consolation. This poem was shared:
Life And Death Are One
Life and death are one, even as the river and sea are one
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity…
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and melt it into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb,
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance. – Kahlil Gibran
Today we remembered a 31 year old man, GABRIEL SANCHEZ VELASQUEZ, who was shot and killed by a border patrol agent on January 14, 2014. Gabriel left behind two children and a wife who miss him deeply. May he rest in the peace of God and may his family have consolation in their grief for his loss.
We were accompanied by three Green Valley Samaritans who shared this poem: