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Embracing immigration with compassion

Crosses with names of falled migrants that will be placed on the Migrant Trail between Arizona and Mexico.

In the border cities of Douglas, Arizona/Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, an extraordinary chapter in the lives of Sisters Lucy Nigh and Judy Bourg unfolded. As School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND), they have left an indelible mark on the community, tirelessly serving those in need and embodying the essence of compassion and advocacy.

Sister Judy Bourg beautifully captured their mission as one that unites people, celebrating the remarkable diversity within God's wondrous creation. Together with their colleagues, Sister Judy and Sister Lucy faithfully dedicated themselves to serving the migrating people arriving at the borderlands. Their compassionate care and profound ability to connect with individuals from various backgrounds have touched countless lives, fostering understanding, empathy and solidarity.

Beyond their essential contributions to the local community, Sisters Judy and Lucy also participated in challenging journeys supporting migrants. Their unwavering commitment led them to the Arizona/Mexico border, where they witnessed firsthand the hardships and tragedies experienced by migrants on their quest to cross the U.S. border. With her 13 years of experience working in the region, Sister Lucy shared poignant stories of loss and resilience on the Called to Action podcast, Season 3's "Migration, we stand in solidarity."

Sister Judy Bourg prepares food along the Migrant Trail as they complete their 75 mile trek.

The Migrant Trail, a 75-mile walk commemorating the lives lost in the desert, stands as a powerful testament to the sisters' dedication. Inspired by the work of an individual in Tucson, Arizona, who crafted hand-painted wooden crosses bearing the names of fallen migrants, the trail symbolizes the struggles endured along the perilous journey. Sisters Judy and Lucy undertook this challenging trek, honoring the memories of those who perished and raising awareness about the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform.

On their last journey into the desert Sisters Lucy and Judy documented a bit of their experience where Sister Judy explained, “We walk so that these unnecessary deaths will end, and we will finally have long awaited comprehensive immigration reform.” Sister Lucy also adds, “At each one-and-a-half-mile water stop, a walker agrees to carry the tobacco ties representing the 160 migrants who died in the desert since last year.” It takes the sisters a week to complete this trek where some days they wake at 4 a.m. to start their walk, which can last until nightfall, depending on the number of miles, they need to complete that day. Their travels take them through a wildlife refuge, withstanding strong desert winds and heat to honor the struggle and dangers that ultimately have led to the unnecessary deaths of so many migrants.

Sister Lucy Nigh on the Migrant Trail in Arizona.

As their time in Douglas ends, the impact of Sisters Lucy and Judy's work remains palpable. Their legacy encompasses not only the lives they touched, but also the inspiration they instilled in others. Through their service supporting Tucson Samaritans and Frontera de Cristo, and participating in cross plantings to honor migrants who have died, they embodied the very essence of compassion and empathy.

As we express our deepest gratitude for the invaluable contributions of Sisters Lucy and Judy, we also celebrate the incredible journey of their lives. Their unwavering commitment to justice and their tireless efforts to serve those in need have touched hearts and transformed communities.

In their honor, we also encourage you to explore the Called to Action podcast, Season 3's "Migration, We stand in solidarity." (Sister Lucy is featured on Episode 9!) This season delves into the urgent need for immigration reform, shedding light on the challenges faced by migrants and the transformative power of compassion.


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