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April 11, 2023

Plaza de Paz Respite Center: A Service Project for the Women of the Episcopal Church

By Cindy Mohr

Each day, individuals and families seeking asylum flee their home countries to escape violence, religious persecution, and war. In 2019, the Diocese of West Texas formed Immigration Ministries to help with humanitarian needs for those seeking asylum.

On July 27, 2021, the Plaza de Paz Respite Center opened as a collaborative effort between the Diocese of West Texas and the Southwestern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Located in San Antonio, Texas, Plaza de Paz provides day-time welcoming services for families and individuals seeking asylum. Services provided include meals, assistance with travel arrangements, personal hygiene care, emergency housing, and transportation within Bexar County to the airport or bus station. The Center receives referrals from both Department of Human Services and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

When a family or individual seeking asylum is released from U.S. Customs and Border Protection or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody as part of the immigration process, they travel to join sponsors or family members throughout the United States. If a family or individual does not have family or sponsorship contacts in the U.S. however, they do not have access to housing or basic necessities, leaving them incredibly vulnerable upon their release.

The Diocese of West Texas saw in excess of 1,000,000 individuals seeking asylum in 2022 which is approximately half of those crossing the southwestern border. This is an increase of over 130,000 from the previous year as reported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Flor Saldivar, Director of Immigration and Refugee Ministries for the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, spoke about the possibility of losing FEMA funding over the next year and that the loss of these funds would greatly impact this ministry. She indicated that any assistance in obtaining supplies for this ministry would allow them to hopefully not lay off personnel. Currently, the respite center staff of four is comprised of people who share the migrant experience, allowing them to provide empathetic support and empowerment to guests served.

During the recent National Episcopal Church Women board meeting, the board discussed this ministry and voted to have the Plaza de Paz Respite Center as a service project supported by the board. We encourage the women throughout the Episcopal church to prayerfully consider supporting this project. Those interested in assisting with this ministry could help with supplies needed by ordering them online through the center’s Amazon Wish List. Items purchased are sent directly to the Plaza de Paz Respite Center by Amazon. Below is a direct link to their wish list.  

Plaza de Paz Respite Center Amazon Wish List

Immigration Ministries of the Diocese of West Texas

We reach beyond ourselves to serve all people in our communities and throughout the world. The diocesan Immigration Ministries supports the work of the diocese and its congregations as they respond to the needs of immigrants, refugees, and law enforcement along the border. We coordinate and lead initiatives to empower congregations and aid organizations to provide mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual resources for migrant communities.

Click here to learn more about the Diocese of West Texas' Immigration & Refugee Ministries.

Click here for more information about the National Episcopal Church Women.

Click here to view the Plaza de Paz Respite Center Amazon Wish List.

Click here to make a financial donation to the diocesan Immigration & Refugee Ministries.

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