Commission Addresses Immigration Issue

Posted: 11/13/2013

Through the work of the Commission on Justice (COJ), Glenmary serves as a "Core Member" of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Justice for Immigrants campaign (JFI).

Betsy Dwyer, director of the COJ, participates in monthly national conference calls and Webinars to keep updated on legislative developments. She attends all of JFI's conferences and workshops. In addition, she attended "Advocacy Day on the Hill" in Washington, D.C., in May of this year to visit with and encourage senators to support comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.

Immigration reform was set as a priority for the commission by conveners Brother Larry Johnson and Father Tim Murphy, commissioners, and Betsy at their annual gathering in January 2012 and 2013.

All Glenmary missions serve immigrant populations that work in the nearby fields, forests, poultry factories and other industries that need their labor. As Catholics we are called to "welcome the stranger."

The COJ is working to further the immigration issue by providing and facilitating outreach efforts, education, listening sessions, community dialogs, small workshop presentations in parishes, and prayer vigils, as well as by supplying requested materials to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Each June, in Charleston, W.Va., the COJ sponsors a luncheon and speaker for all Glenmary members and coworkers who attend the community's annual Assembly. Presenters in 2012 were Patti and Chris Gutierrez of the Diocese of Owensboro, Ky.. In 2013, Keith Michael Estrada of the Diocese of Joliet, Ill., spoke to the group. Both presentations helped provide both a factual and theological understanding of why immigration reform is needed.

Catholics are called to stand and give voice to the just treatment of those who often are the growers of the food that is shared and enjoyed each day in the United States.

The COJ has also provided Glenmarians and coworkers with suggestions and activities to take part in "Prayers of Gratitude," to join in solidarity with national interfaith organizations honoring farmworkers and their labor. Secular and religious celebrations such as Thanksgiving, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Posadas may also be opportunities to highlight the immigration issue.

The U.S. bishops have asked Catholics to contact their congressional representatives to ask them to vote for a just, comprehensive immigration reform bill with a pathway to citizenship and to oppose the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act proposed by the House of Representatives. The SAFE Act would give state and local law enforcement authorization to enforce immigration law.

The COJ is also helping provide education to Glenmary members and coworkers to help them hold discussion and answer parishioners' questions. Educational opportunities include being part of JFI's national conference calls as well as taking part in Webinars on immigration presented by Catholic Legal Immigration Network, INC (CLINIC).