A U.S. cardinal has called Catholics to support the needs of refugees and immigrants living along the 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico.

“The story of our salvation in Jesus begins with the story of refugees. The Holy Family were refugees,” reflected Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, chancellor of Catholic Extension, in a recent documentary detailing ministries supported by the missionary support apostolate.

Catholic Extension has invested more than $12 million dollars in Catholic ministries along the U.S.-Mexico border region in the past five years, according to Catholic Extension.
rn“It is at the core of who we are to ensure that those who are on a journey are protected by the Church and that we advocate on their behalf,” Cupich added

A papal society founded to support Catholic underfunded parishes and dioceses in the United States, the organization provides grants for projects that support migrants along the 2,000-mile US border with Mexico. Recent projects in the border region have included emergency shelters for women and children, and legal resources for asylum seekers.

In McAllen, Texas, parishioners of Sacred Heart Catholic Church have utilized their parish hall to aid 74,000 women and children entering the U.S. since the Central American child refugee crisis in June 2014. A $100,000 grant from Catholic Extension funded the construction of a new facility for their Humanitarian Respite Center.

The center provides a bed, warm shower, clothes, and phone service to those awaiting asylum court hearings after being paroled from detention centers. The center primarily serves families from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, countries plagued by poverty, persistent gang violation, and corruption.

“What I see is the need to respond to the dignity of the people that we see coming to our border and that need our help,” said Sister Norma Pimentel in a statement released by Catholic Extension. Pimentel was praised by Pope Francis for her leadership at the Humanitarian Respite Center during his pastoral trip to the U.S.-Mexico border last year.

The Extension-funded La Posada Providencia emergency shelter in San Benito, Texas, worked with more 350 university students and 100 other volunteers in 2016 to serve refugees and asylum seekers.

Catholic Extension funds the construction of churches, provides education for ordained and lay leaders, and supports catechetical and service ministries within geographically large, underfunded “mission dioceses,” including several in the border region.

Since its founding by Father Francis Clement Kelley in 1905, Catholic Extension has contributed more than $500 million to Catholic dioceses in need across the country, including $120 million to dioceses along the United States border with Mexico.