The Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas, marked its 30th anniversary with a fundraising dinner, and presented its "Border Heroes" awards this year to the Hon. Veronica Escobar, El Paso County Judge, and Father Bob Mosher, priest of the Missionary Society of St. Columban.
About 200 guests dined in the events room of Mt. Sinai Temple the evening of April 20, part of a Reformed Jewish community building and worship center, set in the scenic foothills of the Franklin Mountain Range on the west side of El Paso. Rabbi Ben Zeidman welcomed the guests in his opening remarks, and pronounced a blessing over the meal.
"'Availability' is Bob's middle name," Sister Janet Gildea, of the Sisters of Charity (Cincinnati), stated in her introduction of Father Mosher before he received the award. "He's just a guy who can't say 'no' when called on for sacramental ministry at local parishes, border immersion experiences for university and church groups, or teaching and presenting on a wide variety of topics."
"The area of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue has been a particular passion for Fr. Bob and he has been actively involved in interfaith activities here at the border," she continued.
"Missionaries are those who leave their own comfort zones to discover the face of God in diverse languages, cultures and environments," Sister Janet concluded. "They have the special gift of revealing to locals the wonders of what can be too familiar. Fr. Bob Mosher has shared that gift with the El Paso community, and that's what makes him not on a good missionary of the Society of St. Columban, but also a Border Hero."
Sister Janet, together with her community, has been a close collaborator in many pastoral and social activities of the Columban Border Ministry team for about 20 years. The Sisters of Charity operate a clinic for special-needs children and their families in nearby Rancho Anapra, Mexico, near the Columban-administered parish of Corpus Christi.
In his own remarks, Father Bob expressed his gratefulness for the recognition. On the one hand, he said, "None of us needs to look for recognition or praise for what people do naturally; it's just what human beings do," in describing his experiences at the Borderlands, welcoming refugees and migrants to the Columban Mission Center at times. "But I am impressed that, with all the work Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center does with asylum cases in these difficult times, they also take the time to affirm other people and organizations in their own activities."
"This is a good example for the rest of us here at the Border," Father Bob concluded. "We need to say to each other 'the good things people really need to hear', and support one another with recognition and appreciation, and even criticism sometimes, building greater unity and cooperation among the human-rights and ecological organizations that are so plentiful in our region." Columban Fathers Bill Morton and Dennis O'Mara joined Father Bob at this dinner, along with leading members of the Columban Partners in Mission in the area.