Home / Stories / Day 6: Multitude

Day 6: Multitude

Advent Blog Headers 2023 (6)

Editor’s Note: For day 6 of our Advent series “The Day of Joy Drew Near,” lay missioner Mari Snyder uses an acrostic, a poetic device in which the first letter of each line forms a word, to describe the diverse people whom she encounters at her ministry site along the US-Mexico border.

On a pilgrimage to Assisi several years ago, Mari recalls visiting the cave in Greccio where St. Francis created the first Nativity with live animals. The group was led in a contemplative prayer guiding them to look out over the valley where, in 1223, the villagers lit torches and candles to light their way up the hillside to participate in St. Francis’ celebration of the birth of Jesus. 

Man of 

Umbria, what was your moment of overwhelm when you saw 

Light from flames and candles






Eve as the villagers drew closer, 

Scaling the hillside, invited to see your holy work?


They’re coming, they’re coming!

Was it … Delight? Peace? Doubt? Pause? 

I suspect it was a moment of union with the Divine as you created another O’ Holy Night, with all of creation surrounding the creche.

They’re coming, they’re coming, they’re finally coming.  

As I watch the Border Patrol van come to a stop, 

I open wide, with a whoosh, the painted metal screen door of our parish hall, now a 7-days-a-week shelter. It is Day 91, and the World is arriving at our threshold … families from Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Honduras with toddlers smiling and waving as they enter; young adults from Senegal, India, Syria, just to name a few.

Bienvenidos! Bienvenue! 

Buenos dias! Hola! 

Lucky me to be among the first to welcome them! And there is delight and peace, for this purpose-filled time in mission with this awesome God-given gift of setting up and running a shelter as its pinnacle. And there is doubt and pause… do we have enough food prepared? How can I quickly provide the over-the-counter medications they need? Do we need to text more volunteers?

This is …


Magnificent, that God gifted me this ministry with its daily gulp of overwhelm.   

Understand that today, St. Francis, your

Lights are dressed in dark jeans and hoodies, cradling babies, recharging phones.  

Thank you – and the God we love – for this gift of presence and accompaniment


These last 91 days of my time in mission. May He bless our 

Unique country of hope and opportunity,  

Democracy and 

Equality, and help us welcome them given our nation’s calling on this Earth to 

See the Multitudes – the potential of the Multitudes – as they seek a safer future.


They will soon be on their way to their families and sponsors, after they board the late afternoon bus. As we wave goodbye, adios, and adieu and say one more “Bienvenido a Los Estados Unidos de America,” we see the shining light emanating from each of their souls, moving forward from this desert borderland, in search of greater dignity, freedom, and opportunity in this land that we love, as they, too, make their way toward their ever more divine life.

We are the multitudes.  

Question for Reflection: When a “moment of overwhelm” comes your way this holiday season, how can you share it with God to receive true comfort and joy? 

Photos from Mari’s ministry site.

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.