A director at St. Timothy Parish in Mesa says the Catholic church decided to do something different at Saturday's morning mass.
Joe Cady said the service was dedicated to more than 700 unidentified migrant deaths along the southern Arizona border since 1990, according to numbers from a report by the Pima County Medical Examiner.
"The people in our group were kind of just moved by this idea that people were dying in the desert, never found, never reconnected with their families, never had an opportunity to be prayed for,” said Cady.
The special mass was a part of the National Migration Week that ends Saturday, an effort put together by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to raise awareness about the issue.
"Recognizing the system right now is not working, isn't working for anybody involved. So the church has been urging for comprehensive immigration reform. And I think part of the evidence that the system isn't working is the fact that you have people dying these very undignified deaths in the desert,” said Cady.
And Cady said he believes praying for the families of these unknown migrant deaths is the right thing to do, politics aside.
“Regardless of how [you] feel about illegal immigration, we can step back and say ultimately it's not good that people are dying in the desert and alone and apart from their families, so hopefully it will illicit a conversation about this,” said Cady.
This is the first time the church has held such a service and plans to put together similar ones next year throughout the diocese.