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A Feast Day for Our Wholly Human Families

Blog Headers 2022-23

Editor’s note: Reflecting on the recent Feast of the Holy Family, missioner Mari Snyder shares the mission statement, written during FMS Formation, that grounds her call to serve. Her experiences serving at the Migrant Resource Center this year have only deepened her call to serve “wholly human” families that she meets on the Border.

Early in the morning on December 30, three people arrived at the Migrant Center in Agua Prieta, Mexico – a man, woman and a young teenage boy. This was rare; it’s much more typical to receive small groups of one gender.

I thought to myself … “Wow! A modern-day replica of the Holy Family is arriving on this, the Feast Day of the Holy Family.” This is who I envisioned when I committed to serving in mission at the Border. I welcomed them, provided them with warm sandwiches and coffee, and offered a hat, gloves, and shoelaces as we spoke a bit. They stayed just a short while.

Sometimes you open the door to migrants who are approaching and in walks a “Holy Family” of today, on the Feast of the Holy Family, the world’s most well-known and revered migrants.

Throughout the Christmas season and into the first weeks of the new year, we hear of the Holy Family and their trials in traveling, leaving Bethlehem, fleeing to Egypt, returning to Israel. They were migrants.

It is in honor of the Holy Family and the wholly human families of today who are compelled to migrate by forces beyond their control, that I share my FMS mission statement, now, at the start of the new year and my second year in mission. It’s a prelude to what you’ll read from me in the coming months.

It is equal parts love note and prayer… for help in living out my values and fulfilling this mission to accompany migrants at the U.S.-Mexico Border, and, in gratitude, I ask for the gifts I need most and received abundantly through my Mom, Dad and partner, Brian, all of whom have passed away. (In fact, December 30th was the 10-year-anniversary of Dad’s passing, just five months after Mom.) 

You who know me best may see that I chose to make this very personal, with a nod to the people and organizations that most shaped me, a phrase from my daily morning prayer, my 2021 mantra, and even a lyric from my favorite band at the very end.

May the Holy Family bless our wholly human families abundantly with peace and goodness this year; may they help us become the united, worldwide Holy Family we are meant to be.        


Mission Statement, crafted and conveyed during the November 2021 Franciscan Mission Service Commissioning Mass

I, Mari Snyder, am called by God to accompany His people as they seek refuge in our country. I will offer a welcoming presence of hospitality to asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico Border, for they are the Holy Families of today. 

Please, God, grant me the ability to be fully present to all in my new community. Help me listen to their stories, say what they need to hear, and acknowledge their suffering with compassion. Let me strengthen their spirit with lovingkindness as they navigate their way forward.

I am also called to be an advocate for the meaningfulness of each woman, man, and child I meet. I will shed light on the injustices at the Border, using a peaceful yet fearless Franciscan voice. May it compel hearts and minds to hear the Greatest Commandment anew.

I am so very grateful to all my beloveds who have taught me what it feels like to be accompanied. Thank you, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for answering my years-long prayer and making clear “the way in which I should walk” onward (Ps 143:8). Restless and ready now, I will…for I know that all roads lead to where You are.

Question for reflection: How do you witness God’s work through wholly human families in your own life?

Mari Snyder was introduced to the Franciscan charism that deepened her Catholic faith during her college years at St. Bonaventure University and Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Mountain Community in Western New York. A native of Scranton, Pa., Mari has lived and worked in the Washington D.C. and suburban Maryland area for more than twenty years. She began her career in sales and public relations, which grew to a global leadership role in corporate social responsibility with a focus on human trafficking prevention, sustainability, and youth employability. Most recently, Mari was in leadership with a small, dynamic nonprofit where she launched an economic empowerment program and worked directly with human trafficking survivors. She serves with FMS as a missioner on the US-Mexico border.