In May, 2019, SSJ Social Justice Coordinator Betsy Wiest and SSJ Agregeee Deb Seng were part of a group that travelled to El Paso Texas to volunteer at the border.   Betsy shared a series of blog posts during their volunteer experience.  We’ve included them here.  

In February 1978, a group of volunteers in El Paso, Texas opened the doors of Annunciation House where in a gospel spirit of service and solidarity, migrant, refugee and the poor of El Paso are served through hospitality, advocacy and education. Currently, 400 to 700 refugees per day are being sent to Annunciation House by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be housed and cared for until their status can be determined.

In a few days, Agregee Deb Seng, Patrice Swick the Director of the Erie Diocese Social Justice and Life Office and I will be taking the road to El Paso to volunteer for two weeks at Annunciation House. As I prepare for this experience to serve, sure, I’ve packed my bags, purchased the plane ticket, made arrangements for housing but most importantly, I am praying.

My prayer is that I can show them the SSJ Charism of love of neighbor with neighbor and neighbor with God – without distinction, that I can help ease their burden, even if only for a short time. The road to El Paso – what will we learn but more importantly, how can we help those in need at the border.

A road filled with love

5/27/19 Now that I am home, as I look over the past two weeks, there are people I will never forget. We have been privileged to serve and it is in that serving we gained so much more than could … Read More

Encountering Love

5/24/19 We were privileged to be accompanied on our mission by Patrice Swick, Social Justice Director for the Diocese of Erie and our guest blogger for today. As our time here in El Paso comes to a close, I wanted … Read More

Filling our trunks with love

5/23/19 Founded in 1812, the Sisters of Loretto have embraced the pioneer spirit in the west. Throughout their convent are the trunks of the sisters who built convents, schools and became a driving presence in working toward social justice issues … Read More

Providing Comfort

5/22/19 Deb Seng, Agregee, has provided the blog for you today on one of her experiences during her Road to El Paso. Who knew that spending every summer for 20 years scheduling students into classes would be a useful skill … Read More

A Different Kind of Border Crossing

5/21/19 Yesterday was our day off. One of the other volunteers, Marsha, offered to drive Deb, Patrice and me to the bridge to walk into Mexico. We walked across the bridge over the border and into the town of Juarez, … Read More

Developing Relationship

5/20/19 When the bus drops the refugees off from the detention center, the first thing we do is offer food. One of the refugees told me that in the detention center she and approximately 20 women and their children were … Read More

Resting with the Lord

5/19/19 Deb, Patrice and I joined some of the other Sisters staying at El Convento for mass this morning at St. Joseph’s Church. Mass was quiet and peaceful. The people were warm and welcoming. We saw the group of volunteers … Read More

The Doctor is In

5/17/19 The road to El Paso is long and difficult for the refugees. They have traveled many days just to get this far and their journey is not yet complete. I spoke with one woman from Honduras who said it … Read More

Angels appear

5/16/19 Annunciation House is able to serve those in need because it has a strong volunteer base. People come from all over the country to help welcome those who have made the journey to El Paso. In November, a plea … Read More

A “Typical” Day

5/15/19 While there isn’t a “typical day” at Annunciation House, the days seem to follow a similar pattern. In the morning, those families who will be traveling to join their sponsors are asked to gather their belongings and report to … Read More

Feeding Bellies and Souls

5/14/19 When the call went out for volunteers to help the staff at Annunciation House serve the refugees who pass through their doors, many people answered. Sisters, lay people, local people, professionals – all give of their time, talents and … Read More


5/13/19 Today, I challenge you to participate in an experiment with me. Find your favorite pair of sneakers and remove the laces – not just untie them – remove them completely. Now, walk around for a while in the sneakers … Read More

Serving with Compassion

Sunday, May 12, 2019 Today we walked to the site where we are working and met with our Coordinator, Teva. Our day was spent packing food bags for the 60 people who left Soluna today to travel to their sponsors … Read More

The journey begins

May 11, 2019 Patrice, Deb and I boarded our flight out of Erie at 6 a.m. for what we hoped would be an uneventful trip to El Paso. An hour into the flight that left Chicago for El Paso, the … Read More

The journey begins tomorrow

Tomorrow is the big day when Deb, Patrice and I leave for El Paso. We don’t know what our assignments will be at Annunciation House yet. Because none of us speak Spanish, we most likely will be working with the … Read More

The Road to El Paso

In February 1978, a group of volunteers in El Paso, Texas opened the doors of Annunciation House where in a gospel spirit of service and solidarity, migrant, refugee and the poor of El Paso are served through hospitality, advocacy and … Read More