By S Maria Louise Edwards
SM Therese Ann Parobek and S Maria Louise Edwards accompanied the Aguilas del Desierto
(Eagles of the Desert) crew on a search near Ocotillo
, CA, on Saturday,
Nineteen-year-old Jose Aldama had decided to enter the U.S. full of hopes and dreams. But after days in the desert, he began to feel very ill. He called his family and told them he couldn’t continue and was going to come back home.
It was 108 degrees the day he decided to turn around. It was 110 degrees the day before. His family never heard from him again. In desperation, they circulated flyers and checked detention centers.
Finally, his cousin, who lived in Salt Lake, contacted the Aguilas who organized a search. A group of about 30 people, stretched 50 yards apart across the desert, began walking from the Mexican border into California.
“We were so close to the border that we set off the subterranean sensors and Border Patrol phoned the head of our group,” said Sister Maria Louise.
“As we walked. I remember thinking that I could actually be retracing the last steps and moments of someone’s life. The temperature was only 91 degrees that day and it wasn’t long before we felt the heat.”
Two hours later, the group found the remains of Jose. An absolute identification was not possible but experienced searchers were confident it was the boy. There were mixed feelings of gratitude that he was found, and sadness that he had spent the last moments of his life alone in the desert.
The second of the crosses was placed to remember Jose. “These simple white crosses continue to remind me that every life is precious,” reflected Sister Maria Louise, and added, “The needless loss of life is never justified.”
On the way home, Sister Therese Ann said, “What would Jesus do? It has to be love above law!” Later, she said, “Finding Jose reminds me that we don’t have to fear death. Just the opposite, we must be grateful for the life we are given.”
“Ministering with the Aguilas is a privilege,” noted Sister Maria Louise. She said, “We are grateful for all your prayers and support. Please continue to pray for those crossing the desert, for the searchers, and for a full recovery for Ely Ortiz who began the group seven years ago.”