World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 2020.

Like Jesus Christ, forced to flee.

The theme chosen by the Holy Father for the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees is “Forced like Jesus Christ to flee” to focus on the pastoral care of internally displaced people (IDPs).


Sr. Kathleen Mary O’Riordan, Columban Sister shares with us her experience among the migrants and refugees at the Mexican Border on this special day.  Let us be united with all people working for migrants and refugees and also for the migrants themselves knowing that Jesus had to flee like them from danger with His parents, Mary and Joseph.


We Columban Sisters have been gifted with the privilege of walking with the migrants/asylum seekers here on the Mexican/U. S. border, listening to their stories and sharing their hopes and fears. They no longer make television or newspaper headlines yet their plight is never far from the surface of political discourse. Pope Francis too helps to promote awareness and the fact that recently he added to the Litany of Our Lady the prayer “Mother consolation of Migrants” was very significant. He asks us “not to let fears and prejudices keep us distant from others” but to look into their eyes and feel their pain.

                                  The Trump administration has effectively closed all doors and the U.S. Supreme Court denies asylum seekers the Right to Appeal deportation rulings. These decisions can be a matter of life and death for many people. The so called “Remain in Mexico” policy keeps would be asylum seekers waiting for months until their case is adjudicated and now that the Courts are closed due to the  Coronavirus pandemic they dont even have a possible date for a hearing. Most are desperate as they cannot return to their home countries…Guatemala, Honduras,El Salvador, Nicaragua,Ecuador, Brazil due to gang violence, death threats or extreme poverty so they are prepared to risk their lives to cross the Border. The plight of so many families is summed up in a very touching poem :


  Nobody knows what it’s like

                          To walk through the night

                          On a road going nowhere.        

Nobody knows what it’s like

To be denied at a country’s border

To walk on a road going nowhere.

                           Nobody knows what it’s like

                           To leave the only place you’ve known

                            And to be on a road going nowhere.

Nobody knows what it’s like

To fear for your life

Sleeping on a road going nowhere.

                             Nobody knows what it’s like

                             To hear the politiicians fight

                              About how to get you off the road going nowhere.


I have been inspired by their stories, what they have suffered during the long hasardous journey and the risks that they have taken to forge a safer life. When I asked one young woman with two small children where they spent Christmas day she told me of their four day treck through the desert, with no food and carrying the smaller children on their backs. One woman fell and hurt her knee so she couldn’t continue walking and thought she was going to die there (as has happened to so many) but “God sent her an angel” and a truck driver found her and brought her here to the Casa del Migrante, a safe refuge. It was heart breaking to share the story of another woman who left her child at the border in the hope of crossing over to be with the rest of the family when she herself had been deported.  The Faith and resilience of these people are truly inspiring as against all odds they they risk everything to have a better and safer future for their families.

                                                   September 27 will be the World day of Migrants and Refugees and the theme this year is ” Like Jesus Christ, Forced to Flee”. Lets remember too our own people who left Ireland also looking for a better future and acknowledge their contribution as history repeats itself in our world today. It depends on each one of us to make a difference for others in this life so that Gods Kingdom may become a reality.


                                        But right now it’s my home

                                        But right now it’s my life

                                        But right now I keep going

                                        But right now I try to survive

                                        On the road going nowhere.


Poem by Aoife Ni Riain

              Post-Primary winner, Trocaire and Poetry Ireland

              Forced to Flee: ‘ This is our Exodus’

                                                                                         Sister Kathleen Mary O’Riordan

                                                                          Casa del Migrante, Cd. Juarez, Mexico.