In this experience that God has given me to share, I found Jesus Christ, in the gaze of the most needy, of the most vulnerable. It begins in a classroom on the subject of missionary spirituality within the Franciscan context. While watching a video about La 72, I first approached what was a non-existent reality for me. This reality has now become a significant part of my life.

Certainly, it was just a video. However, over time, I came to know it as a concrete space with real people that touched my life, and I thought to myself, one day I will arrive at that place. This was in the month of July 2018, and at the end of November of the same year, we visited La 72. We came to learn about the project, and everything seemed favorable, the welcome was fraternal and close. “The Lord gave me BROTHERS,” says Saint Francis of Assisi, and this is what we experienced at that time. Without knowing one another, they accepted us into their home, we shared bread, and we lived together as daughters and sons of the same Father, maintaining from this moment close communication to render our services as Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (HFIC), of the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

On January 2, 2019, the first sisters arrived to provide their services as volunteers and as part of their own formation.  Here is part of the experience that one of them had:

“Being in La 72 migrant house was a very pleasant experience. At first I had resisted because I had the idea that they were people who came to Mexico to invade something that did not belong to them or who left their country on a whim.

Being there and being willing to serve, I was able to evaluate this idea that at first had generated resistance. I understood that they are people who are struggling and overcoming, who put their faith and hope in God to find a better tomorrow for themselves and their family.

It is something that I will never forget, that I was also doing something to help people achieve their dreams. By healing the injured feet and relieving fatigue, I could feel and see in them the immense love and dedication that Jesus generously made out of love… ”

The Lord showed us the path we should follow. In April 2019, we participated in The Migrant Stations of the Cross with lay volunteers. Each day was different, special and unique, and everything in La 72 invited us to reflect and question. Holy Week and La 72 conspired to challenge us to value the simplicity of life. The migrant people became our teachers, and we learned to live each moment enjoying, sharing and walking together, as brothers and sisters and fellow travelers. This phrase resounded in my heart and mind: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because I, your Lord and God, will be with you wherever you go.” Jos. 1, 9. If you have decided not to give up, God will give you the strength not to fall and will accompany you so that you do not stop! It is impressive, moving and indescribable to see people with such tired faces but with a firm spirit, and above all, feeling the security and hope in God. They were often heard saying,  “my God and I go together,” “I walk with the blessing of God,” “my God never abandons me,” “the dear Lord takes care of me,” and “my God does not leave me alone.” This time was one of learning, personal encounter and confrontation with dehumanized persons, with simple and wise teachers who without knowing gave us a lesson in celebrating life, sustained by God and always ready to make the Kingdom of God present in a little piece of land while migrating and also seeking out new opportunities to improve one’s living conditions.

In September of the same year 2019, some sisters participated in the first meeting and training on human rights. From this moment on, we have been closely integrated into the La 72 project, a place that we remember with great appreciation for all the experiences that have left their mark in our lives. As a result of this meeting we also joined the Franciscan Network on Migration.

Each day is a new opportunity to continue with the mission that was entrusted to us, accompanied by the brothers and sisters that God places on our path, an action with Spirit that gives meaning to our existence, makes us more human, happier and closer to those who are forced to abandon and renounce everything, not of their own free will but forced by people or situations that are impossible, closer to those who dare to take the risk in the hope of finding something better or at least living in peace.

Our challenge is to accompany them and give human and spiritual care, supporting them and valuing their cultural expressions (cfr. DA 413), with an attitude of welcome and mercy to people who go through difficult realities. This is to be present and to be an evangelizing presence, “to leave our own comfort and dare to reach all the peripheries that need the light of the Gospel” (EG 20).

Our starting point is in God and in the human being, where the only thing that makes sense is Love (Jn 13:34), this love that allows us to go beyond our fears, human insecurities and that opens us freely to the other, to the needy, to the one who has no voice. It is a love that we have received for free, therefore, we must give it freely. Jesus carries out his mission as a migrant in a strange land, misunderstood by his own; he is always on the move in the opportunities to meet the helpless, the widow, the leper, etc. In the same way, today we are invited to “go out to others to reach the human peripheries, slow the pace, put aside anxiety to look into the eyes and listen, or give up the urgencies to accompany the one who was left behind on the way. ” (EG 46)

From our own vocation we are called to collaborate in the construction of a more fraternal and human world. Will we be capable of a prophetic gesture like this? What prevents us? What is the origin of our apathy and indifference towards migrants? “Small but strong in the love of God, like Saint Francis of Assisi, we are called to care for the fragility of the people and the world in which we live” (cf. EG 216), sharing who we are, with the poor and excluded: a fraternity of brothers and sisters.

Sr. Flor Ramos Villada, HFIC
RFM Coordinating Team