Sisters Welcome the Refugee at Annunciation House

One of the commitments of the Dominican Sisters of Peace is to “Promote justice through solidarity with those who are marginalized.” In the United States today, among those marginalized are immigrants and refugees – people fleeing their home countries in search of safety.

We support immigrants and refugees in many ways.

Our Sisters speak truth to power in the public space and in the halls of government.

Sr. Judy Morris and other women of faith at a 2018 DACA demonstration in Washington, DC.
Sister Marilyn Pierson with Baby Eshe, the youngest member of a refugee family living at the St. Catharine Motherhouse.
Sr. Rene Weeks manages the Hispanic Outreach Center at St. Paul Church in Salem, OH.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We welcome those who are new to our country, housing refugees in St. Catharine, providing education in our learning centers, and helping families cope with the challenges of settling into a new country and a new culture.

In December 2018, Dominican Sisters of Peace answered the call to welcome the stranger by volunteering at Annunciation House, a house of sanctuary, welcome, and assistance for those entering the US at the southern border in El Paso. Annunciation House is completely staffed and run by volunteers, and many people of faith have been part of its ministry,

Sisters Barbara Kane, Doris Regan, Roserita Weber, Imelda Schmidt, and Mary Vuong have traveled to El Paso to volunteer at Annunciation House, and have shared with us the journey of a refugee, from entering Annunciation House to departing for life with a sponsor.

Many refugees do not have weather-appropriate clothing.

 

When a person or family checks into Annunciation House, they processed and assigned a bed. Each person is allowed to pick out one set of clothing, including a warm coat, which is a blessing in El Paso, where the temperature often drops below freezing this time of year. Each person also gets a hot shower to help them wash off weeks of travel.

Many people have sent material support to Annunciation House – clothing, food, blankets. Volunteers help sort these items so that they can be more easily distributed to those in need.

 

 

Refugees often arrive at Annunciation House hungry and tired. The detention centers do not provide much food for these people, who have been traveling for many days. Annunciation House offers simple, filling meals provided by donations and volunteers: fruit, cereal, and bread for breakfast, and sandwiches or comfort food for lunch and dinner.

Breakfast at Annunciation House.
Annunciation House guests were very excited to choose from varieties of muffins.
Parishioners from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel bring dinner each Thursday evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sisters Roserita Weber and Doris Regan.

 

Annunciation House volunteers work to help refugees find and travel to sponsors, who will help provide for them while their asylum claim is being processed.  Here, Dominican Sisters of Peace Roserita and Doris work with refugees to arrange travel to sponsor locations. The refugees must notify their sponsor to let him/her that they are ready to travel, and transportation – bus, train or plane – and schedules must be coordinated so the refugee and sponsors can find each other.

 

 

Sisters Mary Vuong and Imelda Schmidt help pack lunches.

 

 

Once travel has been arranged – usually in just one or two days – the new arrivals begin to prepare for their trip. In addition to the clothing they received at arrival, each person gets 2-3 sandwiches per day of travel plus fruit, candy, water, juice. If they are going to a cold place, they get a small blanket. Sisters Imelda and Mary helped pack lunch bags for refugees who are traveling to their sponsors.

 

 

 

A friendly face can make a big difference.

 

More than just a hand at the table or a voice on the phone, our Sisters have been a friendly, welcoming face to Annunciation House guests as they prepare for life here in the US. These people have shown incredible courage just to get here, and now they are traveling into a country where everything is strange and new.

As his family was preparing to go to the airport, one little boy was heard to tell his stuffed lamb, “Don’t worry. It will be ok. I am here to take care of you.”

 

 

 

 

“We’re an immigrant family!” one of these brothers told Sr. Barb.

 

 

Our Sisters met many wonderful people at Annunciation House, including this family that spent the week working at the Pastoral Center. Mom was raised in Brazil, dad came from Ireland, and the boys were adopted from Guatemala.

 

 

A festive Christmas tree at the El Paso Airport.

 

After their time at Annunciation House, these refugees board trains, buses, and planes to travel to their new homes. Many are in an airport for the first time and are drawn to the festive Christmas displays. Hundreds of immigrants pass through El Paso’s airport every day. Airline, TSA, and Border Patrol employees have done their best to be helpful and kind.

 

 

 

 

The Sisters had a day off each Thursday. On January 3, they traveled to Tornillo, the tent city built to house children separated from their parents by ICE and the border patrol.

Sisters Imelda Schmidt, Mary Vuong, and Barb Kane stand near a makeshift altar at Tornillo. Each flower represents a child in detention.
The tent in the corner of this photo houses children between ages 6 and 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for your prayers and support of this mission of mercy, and all the works of the Dominican Sisters of Peace!

Posted in News

14 responses to “Sisters Welcome the Refugee at Annunciation House

  1. I have coats I would like to send to you for the refugees! And also a check from me to you to help in your work for Jesus! Please give me the address to send them! Thank you ! Mrs. Frances Opperman OP. In the Peace of Christ and St. Dominic

  2. January 10 So glad to see your photos and all the
    good work you are doing! Thank you! With in prayer,
    Sr. Martina Stegman,OP

  3. Thanks to you all for being there. Just today we got a call from one of our families here, telling us that the social worker from Tornillo would be calling to make sure we can assist them to find connections for a youth with medical needs who is being released to them. (We assured the family that we would say yes!)

  4. Wonderful article and pictures – thank you for sharing your experiences with us. We are so grateful for the beautiful ministry you are providing these families. Sending you our continued prayers and love!

  5. Thanks and God bless you for the ministry you are performing in the name of us all! Great work! “When I was homeless . . .” etc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.