Today’s refugees: where are they from, how can we respond?
“Whatever we imagine, we can do. We can change things.” The quote is from Professor Ed Fallone, associate professor at Marquette University Law School, speaking at last week’s Panel Discussion on Migration sponsored by the North American Committee on Immigration. Three Milwaukee-area professors talked about the root causes of and possible responses to today’s migration concerns.
Who are today’s refugees? According to Prof. Louise Cainkar, associate professor of sociology at Marquette University, the countries of the Middle East are the largest source. “But they have also taken on the greatest burden,” she added. Among them “they host more than 30 million refugees.” Turkey has the greatest number, but Lebanon and Jordan also welcome a considerable amount.
“These countries have been taking in Syrian refugees since 2011; yet it only was termed a ‘crisis’ when the refugees began arriving on western European borders,” she said.
Since the country’s beginning, immigrants have affected change in the United States. Prof. Fallone likened it to what happens in a family; a daughter marries, a child is born. “My family changes when new people come into it,” he said. “In the same way, the country changes when new people enter it. Just as in a family, we have to be accepting and loving.”
He urged faith leaders to encourage a sense of welcoming; eventually political leaders might do the same.
“I was deeply moved by the knowledge and experience of the speakers, and I realize I/we have much to learn,” said Fr. Jim Schroeder about the presentation. “It is so important to see immigrants as people like ourselves, desperate to escape violence and misery, even through danger and hardship, to have a safer, better life. My parents’ families did this. It is critical we keep showing up and struggling on the streets, in the legislatures and courts, for comprehensive immigration reform as the U.S. Bishops encourage us to do. Love of Christ and His people impels this offering of ourselves.”
“What an excellent program on immigrants and refugees!” said Mary Pat Utech, a member of the Milwaukee Archdiocesan Justice for Immigrants Committee. She also volunteers with Voces De La Frontera, a Wisconsin organization that campaigns for immigrants’ rights. “The speakers were knowledgeable, personable and experienced. I have been working on this issue for at least ten years and I still learned valuable new information that I can bring back to congregations and my work.”
Fr. Jan de Jong said that he “found the presentations on migration extremely informative. The participants of the panel broadened my understanding of this worldwide problem, which is very complex. There exists so much misunderstanding about Islam, the Shiites, the Sufis, Sharia, etc. We are easily caught up in our own prejudices and misinformation. I thought this was a important step of the Immigration Committee to provide us an educational opportunity to begin to comprehend the multiple aspects of this dominant issue in our contemporary world. There is hope, as one of the panel members professed. My sincere thanks to the committee and to the presenters for the fascinating panel discussion. We need more such educational opportunities on migration.”
Click here to read the full story about the panel discussion. The North American Immigration Committee hopes to soon make a video of the panel discussion available on YouTube.
Classroom blessed, new possibilities opened
In his latest post on the province blog Fr. Tom Cassidy writes that SCJs in India recently blessed a newly built classroom that will host sewing and computer classes in one of the district’s mission parishes.
“The classroom came about, wrote Fr. Tom, when “Fr. Jojappa Chinthapalli decided that he had sufficient funds to construct a small structure (he calls it a shed) to provide instruction to local girls and women in sewing. In addition to the sewing machines there was enough space to install a couple of computers that will be used by Fr. Suresh Gottom to teach computer skills to the youth of the parish…
“Fr. Thomas did the bulk of the prayers. I did the reading and the ribbon-cutting. It was a simple ceremony very similar to a house blessing. The ladies all seemed happy and eager to get started. I was introduced to one of the two women who would be teaching the classes. As you might imagine, finding employment of any kind in rural India, or for that matter almost anywhere in the world, is not easy. Hopefully the skills learned in these sewing classes will be of some help, not just in employment, but in providing clothing for many families.”
News from Pinellas Park
Fr. Greg Speck, local superior of the Sacred Heart Community in Pinellas Park, FL, writes with a few updates:
“Recently the community hosted Fr. Mark Forter for a week-long stay. Fr. Lenny Elder and a friend from Holly Springs spent a few days golfing with Bishop Joe Potocnak and enjoying pre-season baseball games. Fr. Paul Reid hosted his cousin, Craig, from Canada, and Fr. Richard Johnston arrived on March 31 for a visit. [A pilot, Fr. Richard will attend the Sun ‘N Fun air show in Lakeland, FL, this week.]
“The community celebrated the birthdays of Fr. Pat Lloyd (73), Br. Gabe Kersting (94) and Fr. Frank Burshnick (79). On April 1, Fr. Frank, Br. Gabe and I attended the Nigerian African Children’s Choir Concert.”
As noted above, the community welcomes visitors. SCJs should contact Fr. Greg if they would like to spend a few days with the community.
+Fr. Marek Stanislaw Dadej, a member of the Polish Province, died March 30. He was born in 1937, professed in 1955 and ordained in 1962.
+John G. Bauer, a seminarian at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology for the Diocese of Gaylord, died unexpectedly on March 23. He was 59. Click here to read the obituary.
+Linus E. Udoekpo, the brother of Fr. Michael Udoekpo, asst. professor of scripture at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, died on March 30.
Please click here if you would like to receive memorial cards for either Fr. PJ McGuire or Fr. Ray Vega.
Reflecting on the ministerial call to give and receive
“Every person who comes in asking for help becomes a new opportunity for me to grow and develop pastoral skills,” wrote SCJ seminarian Juan Carlos Castañeda about his ministry practicum at Taller de José in Chicago. “Each one gives me a chance to learn — not from a book or a lecture — but from real life experience, from the reflection of the face of God that I see in each person who comes to Taller.”
Addressing suicide in South Dakota
“Dn Steve McLaughlin lost his father to suicide and a son to a car accident. Those around him after these tragedies, particularly other men, told him directly and indirectly that men must be tough, ‘don’t cry, be a warrior.’
“It took years to realize that was bad advice. ‘Walls get built up, you deal with other things in life sideways because of it,’ Dn. McLaughlin said. ‘I harbored my son’s death for 15 years before I finally found a way to let it go.’”
Dn. Steve, a member of the Lower Brule Pastoral Team, is one of several people quoted in an article about suicide prevention recently published in the Sioux Falls Bishop’s Bulletin. Click here to access a PDF of the issue; the article in which Dn. Steve is featured begins on page 7.
Fr. Louis-Marie Butari Kayamba of the Congolese Province returned to Canada just before Easter with his visa in hand. After an initial visit to Montréal last year Fr. Louis-Marie went back to his home province to apply for the necessary paperwork to minister in Canada. He is a member of the Montréal community. Click here to read more about him.
Oh, it’s not THAT bad!
Fr. Duy Nguyen, local superior of the Houston community, sent the photo above noting that the community celebrated Fr. Wojeciech Aamczyk’s 40th birthday during the ESL student’s recent visit. Fr. Duy said that the Polish SCJ didn’t look too happy about moving from his 30s to 40s even though there was a cake involved. Happy birthday Fr. Wojeciech!
Fr. Ed Kilianski is in Houston this week, returning on April 7. April 15-20 he will be in South Dakota for a visitation. May 2 is the meeting of the North American administrations (Hales Corners) and on May 3-4 Fr. Ed has Provincial Council meetings.
Refugee rights day
Today, April 4, is Refugee Rights Day in Canada. The date commemorates the 1985 Canadian Supreme Court Singh Decision that recognized that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects refugees’ fundamental rights.
Fr. Peter McKenna of Becoming Neighbours, a collaborative ministry of religious communities in the Archdiocese of Toronto that works with refugees and other immigrants, shares the following prayer to remember the plight of all refugees:
You called Sarai and Abram to find a home in a new land.
You welcomed the outsider and made them family.
We know their story, for it is our story.
Our families, many of them,
fled violence and oppression on every continent.
And You gave us Your own Son as a refugee from violence.
Following Your example, help us
make the story of the immigrant, the slave,
the refugee, and outsider part of our own story.
Today, your children still seek new homes, long for freedom,
hope for welcome and need protection.
Help us, most gracious God, to recognize one another as neighbour. Amen