About Society of Mary, Marists in the USA, Roman Catholic Priests, Brothers, and Laity
Providing Safe Passage
for Unaccompanied Children

Immigrant ChildThe Marists of the U.S. Province came to the United States to minister to immigrants on the move who speak other languages, and it has been part of our history since our arrival here in the United States in 1863. We now minister to Hispanic immigrants on the U.S. border in Brownsville, TX, where we are daily encountering the large numbers of children coming across that border now and in some of the facilities where they are held.

But we also minister with them in Brooklyn, NY; Tampa, FL; Atlanta, GA; Revere, MA; and more recently in a small GED project in Boston. It is no wonder then that we have become so increasingly aware of their vulnerability with respect to their immigration status. We follow the lead of the U.S. Bishops in seeking a humane and consistent immigration policy for the United States but cannot be blind to the painful human needs and social situations of our immigrant brothers and sisters, especially the children fleeing so much violence in Central America.

We share with you here the opportunity to join your voices with the call of the U.S. Bishops, the religious congregations of the U.S., and so many other groups in making immigration reform and procedures more humane.

Fr. Ted Keating, SM
U.S. Provincial
January 2009 ~ June 2015

Here are several great resources to help you understand this urgent situation and take action.

Watch "A Difficult Journey for Migrant Youths"(Catholic News Service)

Overview of Current Situation
(from Migration & Refugee Services-USCCB)

Central American children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are migrating to the United States alone in record numbers. While not a new phenomenon, the number of children who are making the perilous journey alone has increased exponentially—6,775, on average, arrived between 2003—20111, and upwards of 90,000 are projected to arrive in Fiscal Year 2014 (October 1, 2013—September 30, 2014)2. A delegation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) traveled to Central America in November 2013 and reported in Mission to Central America: The Flight of Unaccompanied Children to the United States that multiple interrelated factors are contributing to the increase in forced child migration. Some of these factors include: a lack of strong social institutions and civil society support, abuse in the family stemming from pressure on family units due to violence and family separation, a lack of viable economic and educational opportunities, and environmental factors affecting crop production.

Download PDF to Read More>

10 Ways to Welcome the Children at Our Border
(from Catholic Immigration Network, Inc.)

The exodus of children fleeing violence in Central America and seeking safety in the United States seems to have brought out the best and the worst of us. On one end of the spectrum, towns like League City and Galveston, Texas have passed hateful resolutions banning the temporary housing of immigrant children in their communities because of the purported toll they will take on municipal services. Demonstrators, elected officials, and politicians in Murrieta, California and Pinal County, Arizona have invoked hateful rhetoric against children being transported in buses by the federal authorities. But overwhelmingly, we have witnessed an outpouring of compassion and charity around the country for these children. A number of governors have stepped forward to welcome the children and offer facilities in their states to temporarily shelter those in the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Download PDF to Read More>

Building Capacity to Protect Unaccompanied and Separated Refugee Children
(from Migration & Refugee Services-USCCB)

At the periodic Policy and Resources Meeting with nongovernmental organizations on March 4, 2014, Ms. Kelly Clemens, Deputy Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration (DOS/PRM), noted that DOS/PRM provides funds for child welfare expertise to facilitate resettlement of unaccompanied refugee children. She said that DOS/PRM would welcome recommendations from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for strengthening protection of unaccompanied and separated refugee minors (URMs). We are responding to that welcome offer with the following analysis and recommendations.

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From Fr. Tony O'Connor, SM in Brownsville, Texas
Here in the Rio Grande Valley there are many detention centers. Hundreds of illegals caught by the border patrol are housed while their cases are processed. Many of the houses are for minors; boy and girls (aged between 11 and 17). I recently said mass and heard confessions in two of these centers.

Their stories are quite dramatic. All of the ones I spoke with came from Salvador, Honduras or Guatemala where the poverty of these Central American countries is very acute. These are the brave ones who set forth in search of a better life for themselves. It was touching how these kids, (really children) came close and asked for blessings for their parents, for patience and for a good outcome to their process.

This period in detention is a painful time but of great grace for them: to see what they have never really had to face, the big life issues; GOD in their lives; assuming responsibility for their own minute failings; and resolving to make the best of a second chance. The centers treat them pretty well. These kids have lived, many travelling on the top of train carriages up through Mexico from the south. Others walking, most at the mercy of coyotes. What a journey and what courage!!! No wonder they know there is a God, that there is right and wrong; and that the human spirit is capable of miracles.

Prayer For Children Immigrating Alone

Mary, you traveled alone
To reach the loving embrace
Of your beloved family member.
Elizabeth welcomed you with
Open arms and an open heart.

Be with those children
Who are traveling across borders
To seek solace with family.
Protect them from exploitation
And from traumatizing experiences.

Teach us by
The example of the Visitation.
Grant us open arms
And open hearts
To receive your children
Trying to find the way
To a new, life-giving home.

Guide our Church’s efforts
To advocate for reform
Of the U.S. immigration process
So all families can be reunited
In safety and security,
Without fear or terror.

Mary, Mother of the human family,
Help us end the misery
Of children separated from family
By man-made borders--
But not by love.
May they arrive, as you did,
To joy and to the benediction
Of a loving embrace.

Copyright © July 2014
Education for Justice, a Project of the Center of Concern



Providing Safe Passage for Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, TX

Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, TX testified on the influx of unaccompanied migrant children to the U.S.-Mexico border from Central America. The hearing focused on the humanitarian crisis being created and the response from federal officials. Witnesses included a representative with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Homeland Security Department's border patrol deputy chief, and witnesses who have experience the effects of the surge.

Watch Bishop Seitz and Rep. O'Rourke (D-Tx) discuss this urgent issue

Read Bishop Seitz's
Statement to the Media

Immigrant Child


All Things Catholic: Immigration reform becomes a Catholic ‘pro-life’ cause (Boston Globe - April 5, 2014)

Fe Y Vida
(Empowering Young Hispanics for Leadership in Church and Society)

Network Immigration Reform Fact Sheet

Catholic Church's Position on Immigration Reform

Root Causes of Immigration

Refugee Children


Contact Your U.S. Elected Officials

Justice for Immigrants
(U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops)

Refugee Children


"No matter how they got here, no matter how frustrated we are with our government, we can’t forget that these are children of God who are also just kids.

No different than our sons and daughters, our nieces and nephews and cousins."

Archbishop of Los Angeles José H. Gomez


Domenico di Michelino, Florence; Madonna of All Mercy sheltering the abandoned children under her blue, star-adorned mantle
Domenico di Michelino, Florence
Madonna of All Mercy sheltering the abandoned children under her blue, star-adorned mantle.