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Knights of Columbus continue humanitarian efforts to help dioceses' outreach to migrants

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WASHINGTON — A border divides them, but when it comes to helping the men, women and children caught in the immigration drama playing out in the area that straddles Mexico and the United States, Catholic dioceses are acting as one humanitarian body.

And for the second time this year, the Catholic fraternal organization Knights of Columbus is playing a hand in carrying out that mission.

Just days before Christmas, on Dec. 13, the Knights of Columbus delivered more than $50,000 worth of supplies to a shelter in the border town of Matamoros in Mexico, where stranded migrants have been able to secure food and supplies.

Bishop Eugenio Andres Lira Rugarcia of the Diocese of Matamoros, Mexico, during a joint event with the Bishop Daniel E. Flores and Auxiliary Bishop Mario Aviles of the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, thanked the Knights for their help.

"This is an expression of the solidarity between the church in the United States and in Mexico, seeking to fulfill the humanitarian necessities of immigrants," said Bishop Flores to a group of reporters.  

The supplies delivered included food, water and medicine, said a Dec. 17 release from the organization, explaining that the Knights had earlier in the year set a goal of donating humanitarian aid at the border.

By September, the organization already had donated $100,000 to the Diocese of El Paso's newly formed Border Refugee Fund and $50,000 to the Diocese of Laredo, Texas. The December effort brought the donations to $272,000 for humanitarian needs at the border, the organization said in its news release.

"We're thankful for the effort by the Knights of Columbus, who have organized themselves so well in offering this signal of Christian charity in the perennial search of justice," Bishop Flores said during a meeting with reporters that aired on Facebook Live.

Bishop Lira, of Matamoros, said the Knights were carrying out the lesson that Jesus taught: "to treat others the way we would want to be treated."

"They're trying to help others, particularly migrants who are experiencing difficult situations, in the way they would want to be treated. ... The pope has pointed out, 'Jesus acted, and not just with words,' and the Knights of Columbus are showing love and solidarity."

In addition to the materials, the Knights' Terry Simonton, Supreme Director to Texas, also handed Bishop Flores and Bishop Lira donations.

"Instead of rejecting them (the migrants), let's see what we can do for them," said Bishop Lira. "Let's put our grain of sand so that this world can offer each person the necessary conditions to develop, succeed, and live in peace."  

During the organization's convention in Minneapolis in August, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson told those gathered that the effort was not political.

"As Catholic men and family men, we are all deeply concerned for the plight of the refugees who have fled their homelands into ours. Their need is great -- but the compassion of our Brother Knights is greater still," Anderson said.

At the shelter in Matamoros, Bishop Flores said the main concern as a church is the well-being of humanity. He urged others to see migrants as people, and not to reject them.

"People are not statistics, they are not a phenomenon, they are people, they are families, they have children and have left grandparents behind," he said. "We have to look at each case, each family has its hopes, and also its joys, sorrows. Let's no lose that focus on life. Let's treat each person as a person, not as problem, a statistic, a number without identity, that identity we all have because God has given it as sons and daughters of God."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019