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On healing touch and the wall at the border

Editor’s note: Sister Mary Montgomery, SP, presents the second installment in her blog series. She is finishing up a month-long stay living and working at the U.S./Mexico border as part of the Kino Border Initiative’s program “Catholic Sisters Walking with Migrants.” Sister Mary has been participating in the month-long program in Nogales Sonora, Mexico, funded by a grant from the Conrad Hilton Foundation.

Healing Touch at the Border

Sister Mary Montgomery, at right, performs healing touch during her stay at the border.

During my early days at Kino Border Initiative (KBI), I noticed that Ann Marie, a volunteer for two weeks from Washington, D.C., was experiencing neck/shoulder discomfort while chopping vegetables with me and others in the kitchen. I asked if she would like a simple Healing Touch “treatment.” “Yes!” she exclaimed. I shared a simplified version of the method I was trained in. Ann Marie felt heat from my hands and some relief from pain. A few days later, Susie, a volunteer for a month from Nebraska/Ecuador, also wanted Healing Touch for her aching neck and shoulders. She was fine with receiving it at a table near the back of the dining hall where a few families were finishing their meal.

Susie’s treatment was the beginning of multiple simplified Healing Touch sessions shared with mothers, some children and a few fathers. Nearby, Sister Jan Gregorcich, SSND, was visiting with a mother and her daughter. Sister Jan invited the daughter over to see what this was all about. Within five minutes Sister Jan became my translator. She was a wonderful assistant explaining the process and joining me in praying silently with each recipient.

The daughter became my next client, with her mother following later after a few other clients. Some clients went to get their spouses so they could also receive this treatment. One woman expressed that her heart had felt like a heavy rock before the experience. And afterwards she felt like singing. … All expressed gratitude, many experienced peace and felt more relaxed, some shed a tear, or tears. I felt each session with every person a privilege, a blessing and even, sacramental. 

The Wall

Sister Tracey Horan, SP, teaches a group of high school students about the U.S./Mexico border as part of her ministry at Kino Border Initiative.
Artwork of José Antonio Elena Rodriguez at the border

I have mixed emotions about the wall at the U.S./Mexico border. I did not like the plans for its building. The news reports during the building of sections of the wall made me uneasy. The first time I was close to the wall was the fifth day of my immersion experience with the KBI in Nogales, Mexico. On this day Sister Tracey Horan lead a group of students and two faculty members from Brophy College Prep in Phoenix, as well as Sister Yliana Hernandez, PBVM, from New York and me, to see and learn about a portion of the wall and many experiences that people have at the wall.

During the walk we also encountered the memorial site of a teenager, José Antonio Elena Rodriguez. He had been shot 13 times at the wall by a U.S. Border Patrol Agent. His death occurred 10 years ago. The memorial for his anniversary of death took place a few days before I arrived. Sister Tracey told us that School of America Watch event participants were present for it as well as three bishops, including Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger of Tucson. I was very moved in the moment. I have prayed with and to José Antonio for better and more just laws for persons seeking asylum and immigrants fleeing violence and parents seeking a safe place to raise their children and to earn a living.

The wall, 30 feet high, looked very strong and impassable to me. I learned that it isn’t very strong at all. But it is dangerous due to its height and the concertina wire on the U.S. side as added deterrent. I could not help to reflect: How is this wall helpful/harmful to the United States and to citizens of Mexico and beyond?

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Sister Mary Montgomery

Sister Mary Montgomery, SP, serves as the Internship Program Coordinator for White Violet Center for Eco-Justice. She also offers retreats, spiritual direction and workshops. She has a deep appreciation of nature in every season, the Sacred in the Ordinary, and the arts.

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3 Comments

  1. Stephen Modde on November 9, 2022 at 11:16 am

    It is interesting and inspiring to read about your experiences at the border. You are a messenger of God’s Spirit to those seeking a better way of life! I pray with you to Jose Antonio for more just laws and a safe way of life for immigrants. May you keep up your good work.

  2. Teresina Grasso on November 16, 2022 at 3:59 pm

    So wonderful to read about your experiences of sharing healing touch while ministering to those at the border!
    It is true that we always receive much more than what we give in a treatment. Keep it up, Mary!

  3. Lisa Golden on November 17, 2022 at 1:41 pm

    As a Healing Touch practitioner, I can attest to the powerful healing it can bring. And as someone who has worked and lived along the border (in CA) for nearly 30 years, I am always looking for ways to bring Healing Touch to those most in need of it. I’d love to connect with Sr. Mary Montgomery to learn more about her connections with the border communities.

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