Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Worn Soles, Broken Spirits
What would Jesus do? So often we ask that question when we see countless stories of violence and tragedy in the news. However, when Catholics in Chicago saw the sad stories of the helpless children who had been sent – usually from Latin America – unaccompanied by parents or any adults, looking for a better life, and had reached our borders and now await in detention centers, we decided to DO something about it.
Since May 2005, the Archdiocese of Chicago and its bishops, priests and religious congregations have been a voice for immigrants. The Office for Immigrant Affairs of the Archdiocese of Chicago supports undocumented and documented immigrants, and works for understanding and for policy changes on immigration issues.
So, the Office for Immigrant Affairs and its affiliates (Sisters and Brothers for Immigrants,
Priests for Justice for Immigrants in Chicago, and Immigrant-to-Immigrant Ministry or Pastoral Migratoria) met to decide what to do. The first two steps were direct aid and prayer.
This Friday, October 24th, hundreds of us (thousands, maybe?, God willing) will be standing up and praying for some of God’s most abandoned children. Most Rev. Gustavo Garcia-Siller, M.Sp.S., Archbishop of San Antonio, will preside over a Prayer Vigil and Mass for Immigration Reform and Unaccompanied Children. Archbishop Gustavo will be joined by hundreds of participants from dozens of parishes and religious orders throughout Cook and Lake counties, sponsored by the Archdiocesan Office for Immigrant Affairs. I will emcee the Prayer Vigil.
The Prayer Vigil will take place at Federal Plaza, 230 South Dearborn Street in Chicago beginning at 5 PM. During the Prayer Vigil, symbols of the journey of unaccompanied children – shoes, a train, bread, and stuffed animals – will be presented by children from the Chicago Archdiocese and blessed by Archbishop Garcia-Siller, whose San Antonio Archdiocese has acutely felt the surge of Central American unaccompanied children entering the United States. The Prayer Vigil will include the reading of a statement from Cardinal Francis George.
At the conclusion of the prayer vigil, participants will process to St. Peter’s in the Loop, 110 West Madison Street in Chicago, for a Mass that will begin at 6 p.m. Children and adults will carry candles symbolizing Christ’s light of hope in the darkness, accompanied by a youth mariachi band.
The Prayer Vigil and Mass are among a number of recent actions by the Chicago Archdiocese to support these unaccompanied children, who are fleeing unspeakable violence and danger in their homelands. Organized by the Immigrant-to-Immigrant Ministry and Pastoral Migratoria, local parishes collected over 2,000 stuffed animals which were sent to provide some comfort to children held in detention centers in Chicago and New York. The Office for Immigrant Affairs also organized a collection of $40,000 to support Catholic Charities’ relief efforts on the border related to unaccompanied children, in collaboration with the Priests for Justice for Immigrants in Chicago, who represent 200 priests, and Pastoral Migratoria.
Support for these children and for all migrants, as well as education and work for policy reform will continue, until all God’s people have a home.
For more information about these events and other immigration efforts of the Archdiocese of Chicago, visit www.catholicsandimmigrants.org.