Tucson Citizen
Friday, April 23, 2004

Diocese Without Borders: Catholics unite

Goal is a safer way across the border


If Romie Rodriguez could change one thing about immigration, it would be to convince immigrants in the United States to stop encouraging family members in Mexico to make the deadly journey through the desert. "They want to come and see and explore the dream," the 65-year-old Tucsonan said. "Loved ones here should tell them to hold onto the dream, but do it the right way."

Both governments then need to help make the "right way" easier, said Rodriguez, one of about 50 people who attended the Diocese Without Borders conference yesterday.

Held by the Diocese of Tucson, the Diocese of Phoenix and the Archdiocese of Hermosillo, Son., the aim of the conference is to unite church leaders and parishioners as one church, regardless of the international border, said Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas.

"They are trying to build a better life," Rodriguez said of the the immigrants who cross the border illegally. "We have to do what God would want us to do ... actions speak louder than words."

Cayetano Cabrera, a priest from Agua Prieta, Son., said he ministers daily to people who are about to journey north. He said nothing will deter them.
"They know it's dangerous," said Cabrera, 37. "Their desire for a better life is stronger."

Cabrera, who has been a Catholic priest for nine years, also ministers to people who have been deported and assists with meals or transportation back to their homes.

The suffering, he said, is palpable and he wishes more people would pay attention to what is occurring.

"Go to the border - see the struggle of the people," Cabrera said. "Only by looking at it firsthand will you change your mind."

The border conference continues today and tomorrow at Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church, 1800 S. Kolb Road.

For more information about the conference or the Diocese Without Borders project, call the Diocese of Tucson at 792-3410.