Hospitality as a Response to the Different Modes of Expression of Hostility to Migration

This article makes three key points on the dire reality of the US-Mexican border. Firstly, we examine the migratory phenomenon in general and with regard to what is currently taking place on the U.S.-Mexico border, as a sign of the times. There is no better adjective than hostility to describe that reality, marked as it is by exploitation and death. Secondly, based on Catholic Social Teaching, we present the virtue of hospitality as an appropriate response to these patterns. Finally, in a pastoral perspective, we suggest how hostility can be replaced by hospitality.

Migration has always been part of human history. There are many factors that pushed and still push people to move from one place to another. In recent times, migration has become more and more complicated, but this does not prevent people from migrating. The end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century have seen an unprecedented wave of mass migrations. In order to migrate, people either have to go through daunting bureaucratic gymnastics to get a visa or are simply denied access to the land of their dreams for no good reason. But who can hold back a determined soul from migrating? This is a question that must be considered.

More often than not, people migrate because their lives are threatened. Those who flee the misery of their region or their country and wish to find a better life elsewhere set off with a destination in mind, but without any certainty that they will reach it. In this quest for a better life, they are often met with hostility. This is not to say that every attempt to migrate to another region or country always entails an experience of hostility, nor is hostility intrinsic to migration. However, many places can indeed be considered to be hostile environments for migrants; the US-Mexico border is certainly one of them.

Migrants at that border are faced with hostility on many levels. The means of travel and security checks, far from leading to a safe port, place migrants in extremely dangerous conditions. As a result, they are exploited, and worse, many have disappeared without a trace. Paradoxically, they lose their lives while looking for a better life. Life is lost in the search of it!
As an answer to hostility, the virtue of hospitality, in principle, is capable of creating conditions where migrants can be considered as full subjects, as children of God. In this sense, the virtue of hospitality can inform a theoretical framework to sustain a common ground based on equality, where the welcomed and the hospitable can enrich each other. In this light, the suffering of the migrant becomes a challenge and an invitation to action, to translate hospitality into practice. Practicing hospitality means listening, in order to be able to create bonds of trust. True hospitality is never neutral, it entails standing up for others. This can be a hard task, but the way of hospitality leads us there, on the way to communion.

Read the full piece here.

A Magnitude 7.2 Earthquake Shakes Haiti


Jesuits in Haiti

[Update 02.09.2021]

Jesuits on the ground have joined efforts and formed a coalition in order to better coordinate and have a wider impact. The coalition, called Commission d’Intervention des Jésuites dans le grand Sud (CIJS), is comprised of five organizations with a strong local presence and knowledge: ERFAS, Jesuit Migrant Service, Foi et Joie, and the Fondation Godefroy Midy. The main objective of these organizations will be to build a solid and holistic solution to help some of the thousands of families who are now homeless. The focus will be on building housing in 4 municipalities, two in the Sud department and two in the Grand’Anse department.

A visit from the 25th to the 27th or August to the affected areas revealed details on the challenges that lie ahead. Here are some of the coalition’s observations:

1) There is almost a total absence of the State; local governments were unprepared.

2) Most Catholic churches, schools, and health centers in the area are either collapsed or seriously damaged.

3) Thousands of families have lost their homes, or cannot use their homes due to major damage.

4) The affected population has made their own provisional shelters to sleep in; the rains from tropical depression Grace have added to their problems.

5) Rural areas and villages which are harder to reach are also the most affected. These people are left to fend for themselves.

6) There is a notable absence of NGOs and international organizations.

7) Emergency help is not arriving, even two weeks after the earthquake.

[Update 18.08.2021]

Jesuits have come together in a global effort to support response and recovery efforts by Jesuits and Jesuit organizations in Haiti, such as Foi et Joie and Service Jésuite aux Migrants.

Response will take place in two phases: emergency relief and recovery.

1. During the emergency relief phase, partners will organize to distribute clothing, food, household goods, and hygiene products to meet the most immediate basic needs of the population.

2. However, Jesuit organizations will concentrate most of their efforts on the recovery phase of this disaster, which will see them implement mid-to-long-term strategies focused on the reconstruction of homes, schools, and other infrastructure.

[Previously 16.08.2021]

Jean Denis Saint Félix, Jesuit Superior in Haiti, sent out a communication on Saturday night describing the situation as “frightening”. As of now, there are no casualties reported among Jesuits, collaborators, or families who are located in this region. One of the biggest challenges remains security since access to the southern region has been restricted by gang control. Despite this new shock,

“The number one priority at this moment remains health care emergency services. There is no way that we are able to provide the care that people need at this moment due to the inexistence of medical infrastructure. Of course, in the weeks to come we will certainly face the problem of clean water and food.”

Jesuits in the region will continue to closely follow the situation to ensure we have reliable information on its development. A meeting has been scheduled for today, Monday, August 16th, in which directors of Jesuit organizations, consult members and some collaborators will discern and plan a response to the situation. Following this meeting, an outline of their understanding of the situation, proposed approach and initiatives will be shared.

SJM – Haiti

Michaud Levelt, S.J., National Director of Servicio Jesuita con Migrantes – Haiti, shared a message filled with urgency. Since the 2010 earthquake, Haiti has felt high waves of migration. Those who have little to nothing have tirelessly tried to leave the country. He mentioned that “even though the whole country felt the earth shake, only the south is on its knees”; A region greatly affected by Hurricane Matthew four years ago.

The SJM-Haiti team is on the move. One of their representatives will be traveling to the south in order to gather the information that will allow for an assessment of the situation and possible strategies for immediate and long-term responses.


A magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck southwest Haiti on Saturday, August 14th at 8:29 AM local time. The United States Geological Survey said the quake struck five miles from the town of Petit Trou de Nippes in the western part of the country, about 80 miles west of Port-au-Prince. Seismologists said it had a depth of seven miles and was felt as far away as 200 miles in Jamaica.

According to the New York Times, at least two cities reported major devastation: Les Cayes and Jeremie. Phone lines were down in Petit Trou de Nippes, the epicenter of the quake.

[Update 18.08.2021]

Tropical Storm Grace has passed through the already affected areas and has left almost 2,000 people dead, with many more missing. Thousands have been injured and close to 30,000 families are homeless. The storm lashed the nation with heavy rains of about 10 inches, causing dangerous flooding.

John Morrison, Public Information Officer for the Fairfax Co. (Virginia) Urban Search and Rescue’s team on the ground reports that “food, health care services, safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation, and shelter are all priority needs.”

[Previously 16.08.2021]

As of 08.15.2021, NPR is reporting that Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency confirmed 1,297 deaths and more than 5,700 injured. These figures are expected to rise in the coming days and weeks. The current prime minister has declared a month-long state of emergency.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, initial reports indicate more than 700 collapsed buildings, including hospitals, churches and schools. Additionally, at least 3,778 homes were destroyed, leaving more than 7,000 homeless. There has also been significant damage to infrastructure and roads.

The earthquake-generated aftershocks, between magnitude 4.2 and 5.2, and all at depths around 6 miles, were felt throughout the whole country, creating significant concerns of the vulnerability to infrastructures to even weak aftershocks. Additionally, minor floods and landslides have been reported in affected areas. The earthquake struck just a few days before Tropical Storm Grace is expected to reach Haiti between (August 16-17), increasing risk for an already vulnerable population to storm-force winds and heavy rains that could result in life-threatening flash floods and landslides.

Issues complicating relief efforts at this time are: (1) a lack of medical infrastructure in the impacted region; (2) security – access to the impacted region has been controlled by armed gangs; and (3) Tropical Storm Grace, which could bring heavy rains and winds early this week.

[What can you do?]

Please consider donating today to support our Jesuit partners as they accompany the people of Haiti in this most difficult time.

We will keep updating this page with new information and ways to get involved. Stay up to date with the latest news by following us on social media and signing up for our newsletter.

Hope in Canaan

The ground trembled beneath them and, in an instant, they lost everything.

The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere experienced its most devastating natural disaster ever and the damage was catastrophic. Close to 250,000 souls perished. More than 300,000 individuals were injured. Another 1.5 million people were forced to live in makeshift internally displaced person camps.

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake shook Haiti on the afternoon of January 12, 2010 and, for many Haitians, their world forever changed.

But while the earthquake took many things that day, there was one thing that was left untouched: hope.

Haitians from all over the country began to pour into the capital, Port-au-Prince, and its surrounding areas, hoping to regroup and restart their lives. Canaan, just on the outskirts of the city, was one of the first places many began to call home.

“First there were around 7,000 residents,” says Sister Dinah Sánchez, director of Fe y Alegría Canaan Community Primary School. “Now it’s impossible to tell because people keep arriving, looking for a better life.”

“People have to hope. People want to grow, to move forward,” Sánchez said. “This is Canaan … the promised land. And that’s what we want it to be … the land of promises and hope.”

Part of that hope is rooted in education for the community’s children and youth. “Our mission is to provide for the children so that they are well, feel happy, calm, nourished … we want our school to be a welcoming and safe space,” says Sánchez.

Watch the video below to learn about “Fe y Alegría Canaan“.