Migration Conference Set for May 21

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines


NEW YORK — A daylong conference on migration offering information and support through speakers and discussions is being planned by the Migrant Center at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in collaboration with other Franciscan entities.

The event, named Franciscan Common Ground, is scheduled for May 21 at San Damiano Hall, 127 West 31st St., two buildings east of St. Francis of Assisi Church, and is open to all who are interested.

According to planners, the migration program is being held to engage members of the Franciscan family, as well as lay partners-in-ministry, and key partner organizations and institutions, in dialogue and network-building aimed at generating a consistent, coordinated, and timely response to migration/immigration and refugee issues in the United States.

The event is being organized by the Migration Center with several other Franciscan groups: the Franciscan Action Network, Franciscans International and Holy Name Province’s Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation.

The conference will include testimonials from individuals expressing their struggles and hopes in migrating to the United States, a keynote address on the state of immigration reform in the United States and what a faith-based or Franciscan response would look like, according to a description of the event. An open forum will follow. The afternoon session will include workshops on topics including “Why Reform the Broken US Immigration System” and “Faith-based Organizing for Immigration Reform.”

The program’s organizers are working to attract both laypeople and members of religious communities to the event, scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. “We’re reaching out to all Franciscans, that is, OFMs, OFM Capuchins, OFM Conventuals, Poor Clares Federation especially in the Northeast, Franciscan Federation of the TOR especially in the Northeast, Secular Franciscans and our lay partners-in-ministry,” said Julian Jagudilla, OFM, director of the migrant center, who said the idea for the event arose because of “the growing need to advocate for migrants and refugees.”

The provincial ministers of the seven OFM provinces in the United States issued a letter of endorsement of this timely program. “This important conference will bring together Franciscan voices to speak words of healing and support and create new avenues for networking and collaboration to reach out to ‘the foreigner and stranger’ in our midst and brothers and sisters.”

Organizers of the event hope to mobilize the Franciscan family, lay partners-in-ministry and key partner organizations and institutions by creating the widest possible network of information and support, according to an informational document prepared by the organizers.

Interested attendees can register for this free event through the Franciscan Common Ground website. Information about the event can be found on the Facebook page FCG and obtained by calling the Migrant Center at 212-736-8500 ext. 377.

Since its opening in 2013, the Migrant Center has offered varied educational and inspirational programs. They include a “Stand Up for Immigrants” forum and an independent and foreign film festival.

Information about immigration reform can be found in the Justice and Peace section of HNP.org.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.

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