San Bernardino Diocese Receives Central American Refugees

FONTANA—The Diocese of San Bernardino took center stage in the closely followed national story of children and families fleeing violence in Central America for the United States when St. Joseph Catholic Church in Fontana welcomed 46 migrants for temporary relief on July 10.

The former convent at St. Joseph served as a transition center for 32 children and 14 adults who received food, water, clothing, access to showers and assistance with contacting loved ones throughout the United States. Catholic Charities workers helped them identify bus routes that would take them to family and saw them off at local Greyhound stations.

"This is firstly a humanitarian issue that transcends political opinions and dispositions," Bishop Gerald Barnes said in a July 3 statement on the transportation of migrants to Southern California. "I ask you to reflect on how you can answer the call of the Gospel to come to the aid of the stranger in this situation."

Volunteers from the parish and Diocesan Pastoral Center sat with the migrants to listen to the harrowing accounts of their journey to the U.S. and their time in federal holding facilities. They also played card games, worked puzzles and kicked the soccer ball with the children, who enjoyed some play time after weeks of grueling travel.

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