Lasallians gathered together in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, July 10-14, 2017, for this year’s Lasallian Social Justice Institute (LSJI), which focused on learning about the important issue of immigration. New in 2017, the Office for Lasallian Education at Christian Brothers Conference partnered with the District of San Francisco New Orleans (SFNO) for this year’s program, El Otro Lado: Guides in the Encounter.
The program combined immigration immersion experiences with professional development focused on advocacy practices and resources.
“LSJI reinforced our continued work for social justice,” said participant Shawn Ladda, Ed.D., a professor at Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York.
Presentations included speakers from: Annunciation House, a shelter for immigrants founded in 1978; New Mexico State University; Hope Border Institute, an independent grassroots community organization that seeks to bring the perspective of Catholic social teaching to the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez-Las Cruces region; Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services; Biblioteca Infantil, a donation-based after-school program in Ciudad Juarez; Mexico Santo Nino de Atocha, an organization run by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati serving children with special needs on both sides of the border; and Clinica Cristo Rey, a medical clinic in Ciudad Juarez which supports those living in poverty. The group also toured Cathedral High School in El Paso, Texas, and had a chance to visit the border wall.
“The many non-profit organizations and the donations from good people to sustain these services gives me hope as well as continual educational efforts to improve the awareness of immigration,” said Ladda.
In addition to participants from the Lasallian Region of North America, Lasallians from the Mexico Norte District also took part in the experience.
“As a Lasallian, one of the most important aspects in my life is learning, and I believe that this experience helped me learn a lot,” commented Abelardo Ortiz Cota from Colegio La Salle de Monclova in Coahuila, Mexico. “To learn about the situation of our migrant brothers both on the United States and Mexico sides and some of the amazing ways people are helping.”
The LSJI participants lived in community at the Columban Mission Center in El Paso. The Columban Mission Center offers exposure programs to visiting groups and facilitates contact with organizations and institutions related to United States/Mexico border issues.