Voices of Solidarity from the Frontlines

Originally Published on the OMI JPIC Blog CLICK HERE to visit


Fr. Antonio Ponce OMI recently visited Oblate missions in Laredo and Eagle Pass, Texas. He reflects on the community environmental initiatives and pastoral challenges of the newly arrived immigrants.
Community Initiatives to keep Laredo City Environmentally Clean.
Laredo, Texas is a fast growing city. As its population grows so are the needs and services, such as keeping the streets, parks and rivers clean.  Wanting to know

 how the city is doing in this regards, and to see how the people from community can help,

I accompanied Ms Birdie and Zocorro, members of the Greens of Guadalupe to meet staff from Environmental Services Department and the Keep Laredo Beautiful. They talked to us about the work they are doing keep Laredo clean and how they are working with members of the community and encouraging them join their work. The Greens of Guadalupe has been active in Lerado since 2007 after the late Fr. Darrell Rupiper OMIpreached a workshop on integrity of creation to parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.  More specific information about environmental initiatives in Lerado http://www.esd.cityoflaredo.com/ESDWeb/news/main.cfm 

Also in Laredo, right by the Rio Grande, we met staff from Environmental Science Center. They shared with us about the different programs they offer to the community from the center. Through these programs they inform people about the wild life of the area, the impact human activities have on it, and the importance of protecting it. They also have a community garden that they use to teach people about how to grow and maintain a garden.

Responding to the Challenges of Immigrants in Eagle Pass.

This trip was 

Collecting donations for newly arrived migrants

also a time to connect with visit my fellow Oblates in Eagle Pass who are about 120 miles from Laredo.  Three Oblates, Fr. Jim Fee OMI, Fr. Paul Dass OMI and Brother Sergio Gonzalez OMI are serving the people of Our Lady Refuge and its two Chapels, Our Lady of Guadalupe and in Eagle Pass, Texas. 

Because of the proximity to the border, the Oblates are constantly responding to challenges of newly arrived migrants who come to the parish looking for help. Through the parish, they are providing spiritual support, food, shelter, and refer migrants where they can obtain legal assistance. Recently, Oblates came together with parish volunteers to help poor families that were affected by a flood. They provided pastoral care, food and financial assistance.