To celebrate today’s Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth are gathering for a meal and meeting with those from other countries, hearing their stories and praying with them.
With the country so focused on Immigration issues, from Immigration Reform to the new Arizona law it seems fitting to reflect on these issues.
The U.S. Catholic Bishops believe the following key elements should be addressed in any immigration legislation:
  • Bring the undocumented population in this county out of the shadows and give them a chance, over time, to achieve permanent residency and citizenship.
  • Preserve family unity by strengthening family-based immigration.
  • Create legal avenues for migration, so that migrant workers, who labor in many important industries in our nation, are able to enter the county legally and in a safe and orderly fashion.
  • Give immigrants their day in court by restoring due process protection removed in 1996 legislation.
  • Work with neighboring countries and the international community to address the root causes of migration, so that immigrants and their families ultimately can remain in their home countries and support their families in dignity.
During the SCN General Assembly in 2008, the Sisters dedicated themselves to “Deepen our internationality, consciously embracing multiculturalism and addressing the lingering effects of racism and casteism.”
Vice-Provincial Brenda Gonzales, SCN, says, “I’ ve become more passionate because of my heritage. I am a 5th generation Mexican American. For the past 3 years I’ve travelled extensively throughout the world and I am constantly asked for my papers and proof of who I am. I have no accent, do not speak Spanish fluently but because of my last name, I am questioned. In the 1980s I was living in Texas and the talk then was to tattoo everyone with a Spanish last name to mark us legal. So when I hear these things, it infuriates me to no end. I know how these immigrants are exploited. They are treated as non-humans.”
Sister Brenda often collaborates with John Carlos Frey on topics of immigration. Frey is a movie producer and actor who makes films on issues surrounding immigration including the border patrol, and those who have died trying to enter the U.S. Frey ‘s work was recently featured on 60 Minutes. He has screened his films at Nazareth and at various parishes around Louisville.
We must move beyond fear, as the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby states: “To build the will for comprehensive immigration reform, we must move beyond fear and toward patient and productive dialogue that leads us to action for the common good…. Fair and comprehensive immigration reform will help fix our economy. Immigrants aren’t the problem. Our broken immigration system is.”
An essay featured in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) says migration has always been a part of human history and is one of the most complex issues in the world, “Migration underscores not only conflict at geographical borders but also between national security and human insecurity, sovereign right and human rights, civil law and natural law …”
The NCR essay quotes a man from Mexico, “What hurts the most are the indignities, when people treat you like you are a dog, like you are a piece of dirt, like you are worth nothing as a human being.”
“Many animals live better than we do,” adds a man from India. “It is as if we are worth nothing to people, and if we die in the ocean, it won’t matter.”
The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth strive to help all people in need. We have Sisters who teach English as a Second Language (ESL) and Sisters who work with Irish immigrants in Boston. SCNs minister to Haitians, Chinese and persons from 32 other countries.
As Father Daniel G. Groody reminds us, Jesus himself was a migrant. “In Matthew’s account God not only takes on human flesh and migrates into our world but actually becomes a refugee when his family flees political persecution and escapes into Egypt. (Matthew 2:13-15). Jesus assumes the human condition of the most vulnerable among us, undergoing hunger, thirst, rejection and injustice, walking the way of the cross, overcoming the forces of death that threaten human life. He enters into the broken territory of human experience and offers his own wounds in solidarity with those who are in pain. The Jesus story opens up for many migrants a reason to hope, especially in what often seems like a hopeless predicament.”
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