Packed into the lobby of a Motel 8 in Indio on a sweltering September afternoon, a Diocesan delegation led by Bishop Alberto Rojas listened to powerful stories from families who had made desperate journeys to the United States in recent weeks.

A family of three from Venezuela described their northward trip through six countries, during which they experienced extortion, a brief separation from their 12-year-old daughter and constant threats of violence.

“In spite of it all, it was good for us,” said the father, speaking in Spanish. “We made it … but some didn’t.”

Bishop Rojas led a brief prayer service with the families and offered them his customary fist bump. “Welcome to the United States. We are your brothers and sisters. We are here to help you,” he told them.

The families that offered testimonials, who came from places like Haiti, Chile and Brazil, were among the many assisted by ministers from the Galilee Center, a non-profit organization based in Mecca. Its founders, Gloria Gomez and Claudia Castorena, were inspired by their Catholic faith to start this ministry to migrants and asylum seekers in 2010.

Prior to visiting the Motel 8, the Diocesan delegation stopped at the Galilee Center, where they heard testimonials from employees there along with deacons who have been providing pastoral support to asylum seekers at the center. A common theme of the testimonials was the mutual evangelization that takes place between the ministers and the migrants.

“When you give you receive,” said Deacon Fernando Heredia. “That is completely true with the asylum seekers.”

Full story at Inland Catholic Byte.