The local School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) spent Oct,. 18-22 in southern Arizona, leading a “life at the border and immersion experience” where they hosted eight international SSND SHALOM representatives.

SHALOM, established in 1992 by SSND, is “an international network for justice, peace, and integrity of creation”. Members take the opportunity to explore current social justice concerns, while working with prayer and reflection towards spreading awareness.

The SHALOM North America Coordinators came from Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York, Missouri, Canada, and Italy to hold their annual meeting in Douglas.

The representatives were taken along both sides of the US/Mexico border, Douglas, and Agua Prieta, as well as the San Xavier Mission in Tucson. While there, they were informed about present issues at the border, and how they have affected the community. After several days of meeting with community leaders and learning more about the border and migrants, representatives spent Tuesday, the 21st, exploring migrant trails in Mexico and visiting the border wall for prayer.

The day ended with a “Healing Our Border Vigil”, a weekly vigil that recognizes migrant bodies found in CochiseCounty.

Held every Tuesday for the public, the vigil meets at 5:15 p.m. near McDonald’s on Pan American Ave. beginning with a moment of silence. The members then walk down Pan American, raising little white crosses with the names of more than 260 bodies found in the county. Each name and cross was projected and then placed along the sidewalk, creating a line that nearly reached the Port of Entry.

“Our mission with other people is to work towards unity,” said Sister Christine Garcia, Douglas SSND said. “This is a tangible way of trying to show that a wall does not separate us as human beings.”

For those involved in the vigil, and those who passed by to witness, it did just that.

The representatives, spent their last days in Douglas coordinating their annual planning meeting and reflection.

Lucy Nigh, Judy Bourg, and Christine Garcia all of the Sisters of Notre Dame in Douglas have spent the last five years here, dedicating their work to volunteering and collaborating with others in the community; bringing awareness to these complex issues at the border.

Their hopes are to one day eliminate social injustices, both locally and globally, while spreading peace, justice, love, and a sense of connection.

They encourage all members of the community to become more involved through events such as this vigil.

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