100 Women Begin 100 Mile Pilgrimage September 15

by Elizabeth A. Elliott

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One hundred women will walk 100 miles starting Sept. 15 to greet the pope in Washington, D.C., and ensure their message of dignity and justice for immigrant women, families and communities is at the center of the pope's conversation. 

The group will walk approximately 15 miles per day to arrive in the capitol on Sept. 22, coinciding with the pope’s arrival, according to a press release from We Belong Together, which is organizing this pilgrimage.

Juana Flores, a former nun who prepared meals for Pope John Paul II during his visit to Mexico in 1979, is leading the pilgrimage. She is now the co-director of Mujeres Unidas y Activas in San Francisco, which advocates for domestic workers and survivors of domestic violence.

Other spokespeople include Rosario Reyes, an undocumented mother in Maryland who hasn’t seen her son in El Salvador for 12 years and Ai-jen Poo, the Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and co-director of the Caring Across Generations campaign.

“Pope Francis has said that the globalization of migration requires a globalization of charity and cooperation. He describes a world where no one is seen as useless, out of place or disposable, a church without borders, and nations that welcome the stranger,” Flores said in a press release. “We have much work to do to bring about the world of dignity the Pope describes, but we believe each step on our hundred mile journey will bring us another step closer.”

The pilgrimage is starting at the York Detention Center in York, Pennsylvania. Pilar Molina, one of the spokespeople, along with Flores, Reyes and Poo, received temporary relief from deportation through President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. She came to the U.S. undocumented as a young child.  She and her husband have two children. Her husband did a 19-day hunger strike in the York detention center where he was for five months, but is now pursuing his asylum case with a court date in December after being released.

The pilgrimage will move to New Freedom, Pa. after leaving York. From Sept. 17 through Sept. 21, the group will be walking through Maryland in Monkton, Lutherville- Timonium, Baltimore, Jessup and Silver Spring.


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