A memorial Mass and service is planned for Sept. 1 for the mother of Rosa Sabido, an undocumented immigrant who has been living in sanctuary at Mancos United Methodist Church since June 2017.
Blanca Esthela Valdivia Baldo, 71, of Cortez, died July 23 in Mexico.
According to Sabido, Valdivia was diagnosed with Stage 2 cancer in December 2017 and sought treatment in Mexico in order to be near relatives there. She died of a heart attack after her first chemotherapy treatment, Sabido said.
The Mass and service will be celebrated by Father Pat Valdez and Pastor Craig Paschal at the Methodist church at 11 a.m.. A reception will follow.
Valdivia, who lived in the Cortez area for more than 20 years, was buried in Mexico on July 25. Sabido participated in her funeral via a video conference call and said it was beautiful and “very traditional Mexican.”
The Catholic Daughters and the Knight of Columbus held a rosary prayer for Valvidia on July 28 at the Mancos United Methodist Church. Sabido offered an open invitation to the general public.
When Sabido entered sanctuary in order to avoid deportation, she said she wanted to stay in the U.S. in part to care for her mother, a lawful permanent U.S. resident. As prospects of legal residency for Sabido became more uncertain, Valdivia decided to seek treatment in Mexico.
Apart from her husband, Roberto Obispo, Sabido was Valdivia’s closest relative in the U.S. Several other family members have been deported, and Sabido has sought resident status since 2001. She said her inability to care for her mother during the illness was devastating for both of them.
After hearing of her mother’s death, Sabido said in an emotional Facebook post that one reason for her fight to stay in the U.S. was gone. But despite that loss, she said on July 26 that her resolve to “seek justice” is stronger than ever.
“It doesn’t matter if we are babies and mothers or a 54-year-old woman and a mother,” she said. “Families are family, and our family has been destroyed – separated.”
Sabido said she plans to remain in sanctuary and continue to promote immigration reform through social media and the activist group Rosa Belongs Here. Recently she’s been promoting the cause by writing a message for Durango’s Families Belong Together rally in June, and participating in interviews with filmmaker John Sheedy, who is filming a documentary for the Mancos Creative District’s “We All Belong” art project.
Sabido has said several times that she sees her position as a way to help raise awareness of the plight of immigrants everywhere in the U.S. She said that hasn’t changed.
Valdivia was born on Dec. 13, 1946, Veracruz, Mexico, to Cosme Valdivia and Carmen Baldo Toss.
She is survived by her husband, Roberto Obispo; her sister, Yolanda Valdivia; her brother, Ricardo Barragan; two children, Rosa Sabido of Cortez, and Oscar Sabido of Mexico; grandchildren Daniel and Alejandro Sabido-Yberri; and great-grandchildren, Jaiden Smith-Sabido, Aubree Smith, Mia Sabido, and Daniela Sabido.
She was preceded in death by her siblings Aurora, Sandra, Hugo, Rosa, and Victor Valdivia.
Memorial contributions can be sent to Rosa Belongs Here in care of Mancos UMC, PO Box 505, Mancos, CO 81328.