Ministering to Refugees

By Sister Norma Raupple

Living in nylon tents, often with no sleeping bags and no layers of clothing, does not keep families warm when temps dip into the 40s.

This is a reality for asylum-seekers at the U.S./Mexico border.

In mid-December, I led of group of seven women – Ursuline Sister of Mount St. Joseph Jacinta Powers and five young adults — to border towns around Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros, Mexico. We were in solidarity with those waiting for their turn to meet with U.S. Immigration officials. The refugees fleeing violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador camp on the Mexican side in pup tents because of MPP, Migrant Protection Protocols.

We volunteered through the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, sponsored by Catholic Charities. Fifty refugee families whose claims are being processed were living there. We made sandwiches, distributed clothes, served meals, cleaned bathrooms and showers, played with children and prepared 10 wagons to pull across the International Bridge. The hungry, destitute people formed an orderly line when they saw us coming. They were grateful for the sandwiches, diapers, rice, toothbrushes, and other necessaries we handed them.

As I listened to Luke’s Gospel reading about Jesus being wrapped in swaddling clothes at Christmas Mass, I was praying for these families. One morning it was below 45 degrees Fahrenheit in Matamoros. 

For those living in the tents, we had offered them the cardboard from boxes of snacks as padding between them and the earth, but they don’t have extra clothing to wrap their children. Fortunately, doctors and nurses with Global Response Management (GRM) are there to offer medicine when the asylum-seekers fall ill. 

Let us pray:  O God, open our hearts to the refugees among us. Help us trust in Your providence, that we may embrace them with Your compassion and welcome them with generous and joyful hearts. Help us to be Your light to immigrants, sharing our abundance and celebrating their unique gifts.  (Ambrosiana)


Sister Norma Raupple is the Director of Immigrant Outreach for Beatitude House and a member of the Leadership Team for the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown. To read other stories about the trip, which include photos, click here.