Serving Those With Nowhere Else to Go
Even before the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla Park, New Mexico, had begun a Ministry of Hospitality, welcoming people in crisis situations who had nowhere else to go. Now, with fewer people coming on-site for retreats because of the Covid restrictions, Friar Tom Smith has welcomed greater numbers and a wider variety of people needing a place to stay.
“We had a group of volunteers from across the country, who were called Team Rubicon, who were here to help with the refugees from Afghanistan,” Friar Tom said. “The refugees were being housed at camp set up around the nearby military bases. The volunteer teams that stayed with us were made up mostly of veterans, former military people who wanted to help the people who had helped them while they were serving in Afghanistan.
“Then Lutheran Family Services, a social service agency like Catholic Relief Service, called and asked if we would be willing to help with the refugees themselves. It was mostly just providing room and board. With some of the Latin American refugees we have hosted, we would have to help with transportation, health issues, and so on. With the people from Afghanistan, that was already taken care of.”
Over the past few months, Holy Cross also has welcomed Haitian refugees.
“They left Haiti five years ago, and somehow got permission to get to Chile,” Friar Tom said. “But the politics changed there, and they migrated north. They got across the Panama Canal and through Central America – it was a difficult journey. They said when they were going through Panama, there were dead bodies on the side of the road. It was really awful.”
The hospitality to refugees continues the welcoming that Holy Cross has provided to members of families who have been separated during immigration processes. The Friars also provide rooms for people who are homeless or would be homeless if they didn’t give them a place to stay.
“… we are ready to welcome more immigrants and local people in need as best we can. We are unable to help everyone, but we can provide a welcoming hospitality for some.”
You can learn more about Holy Cross Retreat Center and its mission of fostering an atmosphere of hospitality and justice in the Franciscan Tradition by visiting holycrossretreat.org