About EPISO / Border Interfaith


El Paso Interreligious Sponsoring Organization (EPISO) / Border Interfaith is a broad-based community organization located in El Paso, Texas.  Our members are faith and neighborhood institutions who work across religious, racial, ethnic, economic, generational and neighborhood lines for the good of the whole community.

EPISO/Border Interfaith believes that in order for community leaders to be effective, we must be educated and informed citizens.  We engage in public discourse and initiate action guided by that conversation, creating opportunities for ordinary people to make real and dramatic change in the community.  We strive to hold elected officials accountable for their public responsibilities.

Affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), the West/Southwest IAF and the Texas IAF, EPISO/Border Interfaith builds relational power and exercises that power to strengthen our communities and bring about a more just society.  

Teaching & Practicing Democracy

EPISO / Border Interfaith embraces a vision of a vibrant bilingual border community.  We are convinced that El Paso can be a better place to live – with better schools, better jobs, and healthier citizens.

  • We commit as institutional members to work for a community where the schools are excellent, all residents have affordable healthcare, and all people are treated with respect.
  • We hold our elected officials accountable to ensure they protect our natural environment, manage growth carefully, and make basic services available to all.
  • We pledge to identify and train leaders whose web of relationships transcend economic, racial, gender, and religious divisions.

Through building relational power and engaging actively in democratic civic life, our institutions and leaders will transform our border region.  Our motivation comes from the teachings of our diverse faiths and from our fervent belief in liberty and justice for all.

  • Latest from the blog

    Pope Francis Receives EPISO/BI, SWIAF For Return Visit

    On Thursday, September 14, 2023 a delegation representing leaders and organizers from across our broad-based organizing network, the Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation, were invited for a return visit by Pope Francis to his home in the Vatican.  The Pope first met with our network last October, and last week, without missing a beat, he reiterated his understanding of our organizing as the conversation began. "Your work is atomic,” he said. “You go atom by atom, little by little, moving forward. Like water moves forward, which becomes a river, and soon pervades everything it touches.” He mentioned that on October 4, he will be issuing a companion to his encyclical Laudato Si, which will serve as an “examination of conscience” of our stewardship for the environment since the release of the original encyclical. He applauded efforts to reign in destructive corporate behavior and to promote efforts like Community Lighthouse pioneered by our sister organizations in Louisiana to protect our communities from the effects of climate change. Fr. Ivan Montelongo represented EPISO/Border Interfaith and the Catholic Diocese of El Paso. He shared with the Pope more about on our collaboration on the diocesan phase of the synod.  In 2022, EPISO/BI and the Diocese of El Paso worked together to train over 300 parishioners from 40+ institutions to carry out the synod, using the format of "house meetings," as a model for the church to listen closely to the experiences of individuals and families, particularly those excluded or on the margins. Fr. Ivan will return to Rome at the end of the month as a delegate to the global synod, a month-long process of prayer and discernment for the Church led by Pope Francis. In a recent podcast, Bishop Mark Seitz said the synod is not just another "project" that must be completed and we "get back to our life." "We can't just do things from the top down," said Seitz. "The Holy Spirit wants to make the whole people of God a priestly people, and that means that everyone is involved." In a video message Pope Francis prepared for leaders from our network in February, the pope said, "My heart rejoices when I see the pastors, priests and laity — leaders in their communities — together with civic organizations meet to discuss the best ways to overcome serious situations of injustice suffered by the excluded. I encourage and strongly urge you to continue to do so." ------ Pope Meets US Leaders Patiently Building Culture of Solidarity, US Conference of Catholic Bishops / Catholic News Service 
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    Pope Meets West/Southwest IAF Leaders Building 'Culture of Solidarity'

    [Excerpt] When Pope Francis told a group of U.S. community organizers that their work was "atomic," Jorge Montiel said, "I thought, 'Oh, you mean we blow things up?'" But instead, the pope spoke about how the groups associated with the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation in the United States take issues patiently, "atom by atom," and end up building something that "penetrates" and changes entire communities, said Montiel, an IAF organizer in Colorado and New Mexico. Pope Francis' hourlong meeting Sept. 14 with 15 delegates from the group was a follow-up to a similar meeting a year ago. Neither meeting was listed on the pope's official schedule and, the delegates said, both were conversations, not "audiences." "It was relaxed, it was engaging," said Joe Rubio, national co-director of IAF.  "Often you don't see that even with parish priests," he told Catholic News Service Sept. 15, garnering the laughter of other delegates. Pope Meets US Leaders Patiently Building Culture of Solidarity, US Conference of Catholic Bishops / Catholic News Service [pdf]
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