Priests to Undocumented Immigrants: You Are Not Alone!
Pledges by The Priests for Justice for Immigrants
Chicago, IL (October 20, 2006)— More than fifty Priests for Justice for Immigrants were present earlier today at a press conference held in the chapel of Holy Name Cathedral. The group, which is made up of 120 Archdiocese of Chicago priests, discussed their concerns about the recently passed enforcement-only legislation that will adversely affect immigrants currently in the United States as workers, spouses and family members.
The Most Rev. Gustavo Garcia-Siller, M.Sp.S., Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, began the event with an invocation in which he praised “church leaders who are committing themselves to walk a journey that will find our political leaders opening their hearts and minds to understanding the reality of today’s immigrants.”
In introducing The Priests for Justice for Immigrants, Fr. Marco Mercado, pastor of Chicago’s Good Shepherd parish and a core leader of the Priests for Justice for Immigrants, noted how “a shared need exists with our brother priests and bishops from around the country in support of the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform to reiterate the call for respectful and comprehensive immigration reform that respects the dignity of every human being and protects the dignity and unity of families.”
Fr. Larry Dowling, pastor of Chicago’s St. Denis Parish, and also a core leader of the group then made the event’s keynote address: a reading of four pledges that grew out of an initial meeting this past Lent. “We’ll accompany our undocumented brothers and sisters in their journeys to acknowledge that their status is the result of a long-broken immigration system. We call for a suspension of any non-felony deportations that would separate spouses, or separate children from parents or guardians. A comprehensive immigration policy must be passed by Congress as 98,000 known and countless unknown families are at immediate risk,” Dowling said.
Close to sixty Archdiocesan priests representing the church’s Latino, Polish, African and Irish communities joined Garcia-Siller, Mercado and Dowling, including the following members of the group’s core leadership: Fr. Donald Nevins, pastor of Chicago’s St. Francis of Assisi parish; Fr. Mark Bartosic, pastor of Cicero’s St. Frances of Rome parish; Fr. Michael Shanahan, associate pastor of Chicago’s St. Josaphat parish; and Fr. Michael Boehm of Chicago’s St. Maurice parish.
Fr. Casimir Garbacz, Director of the Archdiocese’s Office for European Catholics, then commissioned each Priest for Justice for Immigrants to aid the area’s undocumented immigrants. While doing so, he presented each with a poster-sized scroll of the group’s four pledges (as included in this press kit) and implored that they “soon be displayed in a prominent place” in each of their parishes.
Fr. Gary Graf, pastor of Waukegan’s Holy Family parish closed the event by sharing an intimate story of a parishioner family that was adversely affected by the currently restrictive immigration laws.
The complete statement of pledges as included with this release reaffirms a commitment by the Priests for Justice to work locally on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform: Justice for Immigrants which began in June, 2005.
For more information, please contact Elena Segura of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Peace and Justice at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312--5333.
Statement and Pledge
We, the Priests for Justice for Immigrants, compelled by our conviction in faith and our respect for the dignity and sanctity of every human life, and saddened by the current Congressional leadership's passage of enforcement-only legislation which totally ignores the disheartened spirits of the immigrants among us who daily contribute their gifts to this country, continue to work to influence the public conversation regarding immigration policy, and to support responsible, respectful comprehensive immigration reform, inclusive of respectful, humane border controls.
We pledge to:
Accompany our undocumented brothers and sisters on their journey and to acknowledge that their current status is, in part, the result of a long-broken immigration system; we will listen and respond in faith to the tragic stories of families and individuals faced with terrible choices due to an unresolved immigration status;
Educate our brothers and sisters in parish leadership as well as all people of our parishes -- highlighting the contributions and struggles of our undocumented brothers and sisters through our preaching, through written and video materials, and through providing opportunities for the personal witness of undocumented workers;
Increase awareness that 98,000 known families are at immediate risk of separation/deportation and countless unknown families who might be torn apart and Call for a Suspension of Any Non-Felony Deportations which would separate spouses, or separate children from parents or guardians, until a comprehensive immigration policy is passed by Congress;
Ask our brother priests to celebrate the Eucharist during Respect Life Month (October), particularly on Sunday, October 29, 2006, with special emphasis on prayer to defend the rights of all families to be free of fear, to economic security, and to share in the rights that will maintain and support healthy family life.