The following comes from a September 21 KPBS News story by Jean Guerrero:
A memorial wall commemorating families separated by deportations now stands outside of a San Ysidro church overlooking the U.S.-Mexico border.
A granite plaque on the cement brick wall quotes Pope Francis: “Church without borders, mother of all.”
Bishop Robert McElroy unveiled the wall Sunday at an interfaith community event celebrating Pope Francis’ historic visit to the U.S. More than 100 people attended the event at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church.
Interfaith leaders said Bishop McElroy was appointed by Pope Francis to shepherd a “Church of the Border” in San Diego County.
“That challenge, the challenge of inclusion, is the very heart of the challenge that the Pope has given to the whole life of the church internally and externally,” Bishop McElroy said.
A painting of the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph tops the memorial wall. Bishop McElroy pointed out that the three in the painting “were undocumented immigrants” when they arrived in Egypt.
Bishop McElroy consecrated the memorial and recounted the story of Pope Francis’ first visit to the island of Lampadusa, a refuge for immigrants turned away from Europe. He said Pope Francis quoted from Genesis, asking, “Where is my brother and where is my sister?” Bishop McElroy said the pope plans to raise that question this week in the U.S.
“We are a nation of immigrants. First and foremost. That is our identity,” Bishop McElroy said. “And yet that identity is repudiated day after day in this nation, when we refuse to embrace the immigrants who have lived here for so long, seeking only to live good lives among us, to be Americans.”
Other religious leaders spoke at the event, held by the San Diego Organizing Project. The event was part of a nationwide celebration by the faith-based community group PICO National Network “to drive the Pope’s message home,” according to a press release.