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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Radical hospitality and the Annunciation House

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GRAPHIC: CARA HALLIGAN ’25/THE HAWK

On Jan. 12, 2022, I woke up to my fourth day in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I was there as a participant of St. Joe’s Winter Immersion Program (WIP), an education and encounter-based immersion program to Latin America and the United States-Mexico border, and I was looking forward to our full day in El Paso, Texas.

Border Servant Corps (BSC), a non-profit shelter network for migrants and asylum seekers, graciously hosted us throughout the week, allowing us to meet social workers, program organizers and activists working to support the border’s migrant population. This day was no different, as I was lucky enough to meet Ruben Garcia, the founder and executive director of Annunciation House. 

Founded in 1978, Annunciation House has served as the beating heart of the migrant non-profit network in El Paso and at the border. Mica, our immersion coordinator from BSC, continuously praised Ruben for his commitment to sheltering migrants, and I could feel his passion in the way he spoke about Annunciation House. He constantly referenced this idea of “radical hospitality,” the active desire to make people feel loved and seen. Ruben affirmed that the work of Annunciation House was meant to extend beyond what is “right” and “wrong,” but rather what is “owed” to others as human beings. 

At the near end of our time together, he shared a quote by Rev. Daniel Berrigan, SJ, saying, “If you’re going to follow Jesus, you better look good on wood.” Ruben explained that so many Christians choose to wear a cross as an accessory but are too fearful to bear the cross in their own right or scared to follow a calling to the work they were meant to do. “This work,” Ruben recounted, “is my cross. This is what God has called me to do.” 

I was in awe of Ruben, as I had just heard one of the most powerful testimonies of faith in my life. The beauty of his words, but more importantly, how he lives his faith through his work has profoundly shaped how I love and care for others. The importance of programs, such as WIP, not only lies in the preparation and the actual immersion, but also in “the after.” What will you do with the information you have learned? How will you uphold the people you’ve encountered in your everyday life? Parallel to the idea of radical hospitality, I see “the after” of immersion as “radical accountability.” 

On Nov. 21, 2023, the Texas Senate signed Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), allowing state police to question and arrest anyone they believe to be an undocumented migrant. On Feb. 7, 2024, the Office of the Texas Attorney General served its current lawsuit against Annunciation House to revoke the shelter’s license to operate in the city of El Paso.  

In understanding the root of what I can control, I will continue to advocate for the importance of organizations and people like Ruben. It’s what they are owed. 

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