JRS/USA: Executive Director Lenten Reflection

27 March 2022|Joan Rosenhauer, JRS/USA Executive Director

A man and a woman speaking with another man. All three people have masks on and they are outside.
JRS/USA Executive Director, Joan Rosehauer, at a shelter in Ciudad Jaurez.

Featured in Ignatian Solidarity Network’s Lenten Reflection, ‘Harden Not Your Hearts: A Lenten Journey in Holy Frustration”

On Ash Wednesday, I visited a shelter in Ciudad Juarez, where people who have fled their homes in Central America are waiting to apply for protection in the US.  Their stories are unique but have a common theme—they feared for their safety in their home countries. One woman I met fled with her husband and two young children. After her brother was murdered by a cartel, she was told they would come after her and her husband next. At one point they arrived in the US and requested asylum. The US government put the family on a plane, and they thought they were being flown to California. Her little girl kept saying during the flight how wonderful their lives would be in the US.  But when they landed, they were in El Paso and were walked across the bridge to Juarez. Her six-year-old cried as the woman shared this story. Yet they still have hope that they will cross into the US and find safety.

A highlight of my visit was joining the asylum-seekers for Mass and distribution of ashes. How moving it was to join these brave people who knew the pain of fleeing their homes and pray for the people fleeing their homes in Ukraine. Our faith brings us together as one human family. As JRS responds to the heartbreak at the southern US border, in Ukraine, and in far too many other places, there is still hope.

There is hope if we recognize the goodness of the Lord in our midst reflected in the goodness of our brothers and sisters, and if we bring God’s welcome and love to all people throughout the world.  We can each play our part and consistently ask ourselves, “What can I do to keep my heart open for God’s call to bring love and justice to those in greatest need?”

What can I do to keep my heart open for God’s call to bring love and justice to those in greatest need?