On the morning of May 2, 2024, the E. Wisconsin Franciscan Justice Circle organized a multi-generational group of 40 people to gather on the sidewalk of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Milwaukee, WI to participate in a weekly witness in support of the rights of our immigrant brothers and sisters, called a Jericho Walk. In addition to the Franciscan Justice Circle members, there were several Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity from Manitowoc, Felician Sisters, local Secular Franciscans, and students from two nearby Catholic high schools who joined the regular Jericho Walk participants.

The group joined those who have regularly participated in the weekly walk for 10+ years, which began as a way of calling attention to the injustices experienced by immigrants, both along the southern border, and in the cities and rural areas of our country. They silently walked up and down the sidewalk in front of the immigration office seven times, doing so in the manner of the Israelites, who marched around the city of Jericho until “the walls came crumbling down.” Some carried 

signs indicating a desire for all immigrants to be treated with dignity and welcome. At the conclusion of the silent walk, the group prayed together and then walked to nearby Grace Lutheran Church to reflect on the experience and continue sharing over food and drinks.

The diverse group broke into smaller groups of 5 at circular tables for reflection and conversation. Everyone was easily engaged and it was noted how the students were particularly  committed to the walk and what it represents. Again and again, students mentioned how this was either their first or second participation in a public witness, some having participated in peaceful Black Lives Matter marches in the past, noting the value of a silent march/prayer. Table discussion included personal stories related to health insurance, driver’s license and employment. The presence of the regular weekly participants in the Jericho Walk enriched the conversation and new relationships were formed.

As one Justice Circle member shared, “The student commitment to community service, at such a young age, gave me much hope.” Through reaching out and inviting others in, the Franciscan Justice Circle brought people together for an opportunity of encounter across generations and life experiences in a spirit of Franciscan hospitality. The “Reverse Prayer of St. Francis“, author unknown, started and ended their time together, along with an invitation to join the Jericho Walk again any Thursday morning, rain or shine.

“…Disturb us, O Lord,

to be with, as well as for the alienated;

to love the unlovable as well as the lovely;

Lord make me a channel of disturbance.”

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