HELPING IMMIGRANTS navigate an often-treach- erous road to survival is the daily work of Father Julian Jagudilla, O.F.M., executive director of theMigrant Center of New York. One story in particularstands out for him.
A young undocumented immigrant had cometo the United States to work, sending money hometo his impoverished mother. He hadn’t risked visiting her in at least 10 years. He knew that—withoutdocumentation—he might not be able to return.
“We were able to help him get the documenta
FAMILY MINISTRY AT THE BORDER
MARIA ANTONIA Aranda Diaz was in her 40s when she left her ca- reer as an engineer to become a Sister, Servant of the ImmaculateHeart of Mary (or I.H.M. Sister). She thought she would devote her timeto family ministry, helping couples work on relationships and guidingchildren to read Bible stories. Her path took another turn entirely.
Aranda has joined Catholic sisters, brothers, and priests who havegone to the U.S.-Mexico border to minister to the migrants there. Thesereligious have responded to the humanitarian crisis caused by thousands of asylum seekers arriving at the border and being denied entrance or access to asylum application. The problems have been compounded by the serious health issues of COVID- 19. Aid from men andwomen religious has ranged from meeting immediate needs for foodand medicine to spiritual solace for those who have been traumatized.
It is a modern-day Bible story, Aranda told Time magazine: “Starting
from Genesis, we’re talking about migration, no? The people of Israel,
the Hebrews, they walked through the desert,” she said. “Matthew
speaks of love for the needy.”
Now 60, Aranda serves in a different kind of family ministry than she had once imagined, working to
help migrants join their families across the border. She calls it “a great joy and satisfaction . . . knowing that, in
some way, our work is helping other people find happiness.”
IMMIGRANT OUTREACH: CALLING WITHIN A CALLING
tion he needed,” Jagudilla says. “He had been goneso long that she didn’t recognize him at first. Whenhe told her who he was, she broke down and cried.
It was a resurrection story.”
Migrants come to the Franciscan-supported
center for help with legal issues and other services.
Jagudilla says his ministry as executive director
helps him as much as it helps them.
“It helps me fulfill my vocation as a friar to bewelcoming of all people,” he explains. “It’s a greatopportunity to witness the gospel.”
FATHER JULIAN Jagudilla,O.F.M. (far left) advocatesfor immigrant rights withmembers of his religiouscommunity.
SISTER MARIA Antonia Aranda, I.H.M.
at St. John the Apostle and Evangelist
Church in Juarez, Mexico, where she
works with migrants.