Celebration aims for solidarity with Hispanic community

Categories: Around the Diocese

Compassionate immigration reform to be the focus of Dec. 15 events; Bishop Kettler to preside at Mass for Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. John’s Abbey

Nov. 22, 2013, edition
By Carol Jessen-Klixbull

The Catholic community of the St. Cloud Diocese will come together in prayer and communion to support its Hispanic brothers and sisters through a special event Dec. 15 at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville.

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Parishioners from St. Anthony Claret Church of Anaheim, Calif., carry a banner as they join a procession at the opening of a gathering to pray for immigration reform at the Christ Cathedral Plaza in Garden Grove, Calif., Nov. 16. In Washington, the U.S. Senate has passed a comprehensive reform bill, but House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said the House will not take up that measure and plans to consider its own versions of reform. The Diocese of St. Cloud has planned a Mass and a reception Dec. 15 at St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, in support of members of the Hispanic community and immigration reform. CNS photo / Tim Rue

Bishop Donald Kettler will preside at a 2 p.m. Mass, and a reception will follow from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Old Gym on the St. John’s University campus. It will include a number of booths representing agencies involved with Hispanic ministry and presentations about immigration.

Mayuli Bales, diocesan director of Multicultural Ministries, said that during the community’s prayer, “We will call for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe for comprehensive immigration reform.

“We are asking everyone to come together to pray for us and to support this petition to rescue human beings who deserve a chance,” Bales said.

“Prayer can bring us together.”

Priests of the diocese and religious orders will concelebrate at this special gathering in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas, to pray as a diocesan community for justice in immigration laws.

At the reception, Edith Hernadez-Fussy with the Hernandez Law Firm will speak about immigration law. A Latino supper will be served and the Purepecha dancers from Michoacán, Mexico, will perform. The event also includes the first distribution of coats from the Winter Coat Drive. (See information below.)

Buses will be available from parishes in Morris, Melrose, Pelican Rapids, Rockville, Cold Spring and Richmond. The Mass collection will be for buses and food. A free will offering will also be collected to offset the costs of the supper and buses.

Valuing diversity

“As a person coming from Alaska, I’ve learned that we are supposed to be one people,” Bishop Kettler said. “People of different cultures have so many valuable things to learn from and share with each other. Division is a sad situation. We are all Catholic people.”

Bales was concerned that immigration reform proposals may not make it through Congress this term.

“If it doesn’t pass by the end of November we feel it won’t be passed in this administration,” she said. “There are thousands of people waiting for a window to open to straighten out their immigration status.

“We are trying to put a human face on a law that is not framed in a human context,” she added. “As church, through our baptism, we are called to be in solidarity. We want everyone to come together to ask the Lord to give us the strength we need to continue. In mission we need to attend to those who are neglected and living in fear.”

Concern for families

Kathy Langer, director of Social Concerns for Catholic Charities of the St. Cloud Diocese, said the need for reforming immigration laws are evident.

“We can see all around us there are people who have come to this country to feed their families, like many of our ancestors did, but are unable to get documents to legalize their engagement in our country,” Langer said.

“With 11 million people who are undocumented in this country, we know our immigration system is not working and needs to be reformed. Many of us don’t understand the human suffering this broken system causes every day for people.”

Langer noted that the Catholic Church has been in the forefront of the debate calling for immigration reform for a long time. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops asks that the faithful advocate by calling and writing their legislators in Washington.

The USCCB has a website — www.justiceforimmigrants.org — to keep Catholics updated on this advocacy work and answers questions about the issue. The website has an easy-to-use e-postcard that individuals may send to members of Congress asking that they pass immigration reform. People may also call 1-855-589-5698, a toll free number, to express their support.

Langer told of going this summer to Tucson, Ariz., and seeing the huge wall that is in place dividing Mexico and the United States as well as many border patrol officers and checkpoints in and around the Sonoran Desert.

“In Nogales, Mexico, I heard stories about parents who had to leave their American-born children in this country when they were deported,” she said. “They have little hope of seeing them since it is so dangerous and costly to cross over again. These parents are the collateral damage of a broken immigration system.”

Bishop Kettler said change was needed to keep families from being torn apart in many different ways.

“What we have now is not working,” Bishop Kettler said. “We have to be able to deal with the challenges of immigration but do it in a way that doesn’t wreck our families. We are talking about our families — our people. Pope Francis has said that not only are we supposed to pay attention to our brothers and sisters but also we are supposed to be out there caring for them and helping one another. I want to respond to his call.”

Sponsors of the event include the Diocesan Office of Multicultural Ministries, the Social Concerns Department of Catholic Charities, St. John’s Abbey, College of St. Benedict/SJU Multicultural Ministries and St. Boniface Parish in Cold Spring.

Winter coat drive

Clean, gently used or new coats will be collected through Dec. 9 and given to multicultural families in central Minnesota.

Drop-off locations are Casa Guadalupe Multicultural Communities, 22 5th Ave. N, Cold Spring (320-685-3943) and Hernandez Law Firm, St. Cloud Business Center, 14 7th Ave. N, Suite 106, St. Cloud (320-433-9000).