Pope Francis encourages work of migrant aid group in Nogales

Pope Francis encourages work of migrant aid group in Nogales

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - When some Nogales students wrote letters to Pope Francis, inviting him to come to the border community to see their work with migrants, it's hard to say what they expected.

What the Kino Teens of Lourdes Catholic School got was a letter from the Pope.

The pontiff has been getting involved in the United States immigration debate.

He calls conditions along the border "inhuman."

A copy of the letter, written in Spanish and signed simply "Francisco," is in the office of the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Arizona.

The group offers humanitarian aid in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, to people who have been deported from the United States, and to migrants who have come north to Sonora.

It also does education, research and advocacy.

The Kino Teens work the Kino Border Initiative.

The letter, along with a mass that was held at the border fence last year, has focused international attention on the issue of migrants on the border and the trauma they've suffered.

Reverend Sean Carroll is the executive director of the Kino Border Initiative and says he's honored the pontiff wrote back to him and the students.

"I love one line in particular where he says, 'Your letter and the letters of the students from Lourdes Catholic School in Nogales have touched my heart because of the drama they describe and because of the hope they manifest.' And I think that statement right there expresses tremendous support of our ministry and of the work of these young people," says Father Carroll.

That's important to people doing a job that can be difficult at times.

"We do get discouraged sometimes. There's a lot of suffering. And men, women and children experience abuse and trauma in various ways. That is a reality. And we hear those stories. It is hard and it is challenging and yet I do think this letter really reminds us that we're doing the right thing, that we're doing God's work. We're doing the work of the church, Father Carroll says. "And I think what helps us too is when we remember that it is really God who invited us here, who called us here."

Father Carroll says he expects Pope Francis will speak about the issue of, what he calls, the United States' broken immigration system when the pontiff addresses Congress.

There had been hope Pope Francis would go to the border during his September U.S. visit.

However, Father Carroll says the pontiff won't be coming this time, but perhaps in the future.

To read Pope Francis' letter, click here

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