In June of 2019, members of the DC Catholic Coalition experienced a call to respond to the immediate crisis of children at the US Border separated from their families and detained in unacceptable conditions. Representing religious congregations and Catholic justice organizations, we recognized a call to mobilize the collective power of our various constituencies for the sake of the children.
We knew from the outset that the complex issues and immense suffering would not be “solved” with our campaign to raise awareness, inspire action and encourage each one to take increasing risk to raise the consciousness of our leaders. At the same time, we are people of hope and the response to our collective invitation to join three actions of witness surpassed our expectations. We are profoundly grateful.
The DC Catholic Coalition made a three-month commitment to participate and invite others to join three actions to educate, create a community of commitment, and to act on behalf of immigrant children and families. We thank each one of you who participated, sponsored, supported and prayed with us. More than 1,000 individuals and groups have been part of this collective witness. We give thanks for each one.
While the work must continue, this season of harvest and bountiful thanks give us occasion to recall what has happened in our three witnesses:
- July 18: Capitol Rotunda (71 arrested and/200 hundred plus participants): Gathering for prayer and protest on the grounds of the capitol with a procession to the Rotunda of the Russell Senate office building for an action of nonviolent civil disobedience on behalf of immigrant families, particularly the children separated and detained. Photos from the event on FAN's Facebook Page
- September 4: Newark, New Jersey: Over 400 people gathered for prayer at St. Mary’s Abbey followed by a procession to ICE offices, Cardinal Tobin’s remarks and blessing, speakers from the community, risk-taking witness of 50 plus persons in the street of Newark as a testimony of the power of local and national communities on behalf of those separated and detained. Photos from the event can be found on FAN's Facebook page and this album courtesy of Ignatian Solidarity Network.
- October 11-13: Joined the Latinx Catholic Leadership Coalition and Hope Border Institute Teach -In, pilgrimage, and accompaniment. Over 400 people gathered. Two hundred crossed the Paso Del Norte bridge from El Paso to Ciudad Juarez to meet with legal advisors and immigrant families living on the streets while they wait to be allowed to apply for asylum in the U.S. As they crossed back, each blessed the bridge and prayed for those forced to “Remain in Mexico.” After the blessing, three immigrant families were accompanied by some participants and were permitted to enter the U.S. Photos of the event.
Each of these three witnesses for immigrant justice required a wide net of community organizers, volunteers, planning teams, powerful prayerful witness powerfully duplicated in local communities and the testimony of transformational experiences from participants from coast to coast. This has been an experience of the power where “two or three are gathered in my name” and the effervescence of the Spirit.
The work must continue. Each of us has both a responsibility and a Gospel call to determine how we will continue this great work that has begun. As we draw the collective action of this “three-witness commitment” and strategic campaign to a close, we invite you to join us in prayer and reflection on November 2nd.
Here are some suggested questions to assist each of us to deepen our understanding how this experience calls us to respond in new ways:
- How have we changed?
- How have we experienced new challenge?
- How have we grown in our commitment?
- Realizing that we cannot do this alone, how can we continue to join in solidarity locally, regionally and nationally to continue this work.
- Consider one or more of the following questions: What is the relationship between the police and the immigrants in your community? Is there a trust relationship or are the police a tool of ICE? Is your church willing to serve as sanctuary? Is there a local immigrant advocacy organization with which you can become involved. What positions have your elected representatives taken vis a vis immigration. Where is the Governor of your State regarding accepting refugees? Is your parish reaching out to immigrants?
We encourage you to use Bishop Mark Seitz’s pastoral letter, Night Will Be No More to enliven your reflection and deepen your commitment to action. In addition, you will find listed below some resources below for your continued action to End the Inhumanity. We invite your prayers and intentions for the Border Mass that will celebrated November 2 in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.
- Prayer for All Saints and All Souls Day to conclude this campaign
- Prayer Cards and Poster Cards of children who have died in detention
- Prayer for use during the month of November
- On-Going Action Opportunities and Resources (ex. Types of Strategic Risks)
We, the DC Catholic Coalition, know that the power of the three witnesses has been in our collective community response. It could not have happened without each one of us, with our confidence in the faith that moves mountains and the courage to be “laborers in the field”.
We continue to urge everyone to continue calling Congress (202-224-3121) and the White House (202-456-1111) to say NO to President Trump’s inhumane policies that separate families and harm children. Here is a sample script:
"As a person of faith, I am calling today to demand [Senator's NAME] or [President Trump] immediately end the unjust and immoral practice of detaining children and families. Family is sacred—it is the cornerstone of our church and our community and must be protected. Guided by our Catholic faith and our national values, we affirm the dignity of all people and our call to love our neighbors. We can and must remain a country that provides refuge for children and families fleeing violence and persecution. Thank You!
We thank the sponsoring organizations, the generous contributions (human, spiritual and financial) that made the work possible, and our heartfelt gratitude for each one who “kept showing up” in this time that so many choose silence and invisibility.
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Faith in Action & Congregation Action Network
Faith in Public Life
Franciscan Action Network
Ignatian Solidarity Network
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Pax Christi USA
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Stuart Center: Society of the Sacred Heart