The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration Encuentro@The Border group grew from FSPA’s 2017 support of immigration as an issue for the congregation to explore.  Instead of focusing merely on the meaning of “meet,” we chose to educate ourselves as to the deeper significance of immigration issues, namely the needs of people who could no longer remain in their homes and countries.

Together with the Coulee Region Immigration Task Force in LaCrosse, we have been providing needed support for Latinos in our county.  We were apprised of the need to assist people in Trempealeau County as well, especially at this time of the COVID-19 crisis.  

Outside of the LaCrosse area, we sought ways to support, collaborate, network and partner with not-for-profit organizations on the US and northern Mexico sides of the border.  After almost two years of meetings and research, together with partners in mission who are walking with and learning from people in Honduras, Arizona and Texas, as well as in both northern and southern Mexico, we arrived at the following decision:

The Encuentro@the Border group will increase collaboration with four partner organizations in the next 1-2 years:  

1. Coulee Region Immigration Task Force: 
FSPA will invest to develop support to migrant families in Trempealeau County.

2. La 72 Migrant Shelter, State of Tabasco, Mexico: 
FSPA will invest to support immediate needs of migrants at the southern Mexico border during the COVID crisis and legal efforts for those seeking asylum.

3. KINO Border Initiative Arizona: 
FSPA will invest for their ministry at the border (both sides), including immediate legal orientation for asylum seekers and supporting network organizations.

4. Catholic Charities, Brownsville, Texas:
FSPA will invest for their ministry at the border (both sides), including meeting immediate and short term needs, legal assistance, their “field hospital” and tent city (Matamoros), and facilitation of migrants becoming Mexican citizens in light of the current U.S. migrant stance.  We have been asked to consider some assistance for mothers with teenaged daughters in the tent city.  The teenaged girls can easily become victims of sexual violence and/or human trafficking.  Catholic Charities of Brownsville is looking to move the mothers and daughters into apartments in Matamoros.

We are grateful that FSPA is able to collaborate with these partners to support refugees and asylum seekers to become productive citizens who can safely raise their families and contribute to society.

Sr. Fran Ferder, FSPA
Francican Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
LaCrosse, Wisconsin, USA
Photos: Fran Ferder, FSPA and Kristin Peters, FSPA