Parishioners Learn About Immigration

Joan Conway Features

SILVER SPRING, Md. – At our Immigration Night on Jan. 19 at St. Camillus, 200 people gathered to listen to Bishop Francisco González and Kevin Appleby of the USCCB. We had a wonderful experience learning a new language that empowers us to speak on behalf of those among us who are suffering through this recent migration to the United States.

We also learned about the support of the Catholic Bishops for the bill pending before the Senate sponsored by Senators McCain and Kennedy and their opposition to the bill passed by the House of Representatives. It became clear to me and to others that we will have to contact our Senators and Congressmen and women if we want to have an impact on the adoption of a just immigration policy by the US. The time to do that is now.

Last June, the St. Camillus Parish Council voted to support the bishops’ initiative on immigration, and we held the kick-off event on Oct. 30. It was a very successful Immigration Celebration at the 10:30 a.m. multi-cultural Mass. Afterwards, we had a huge potluck and multi-cultural entertainment until 3 p.m. We made the front page of the Washington Catholic paper, the Catholic Standard.

Then, on Jan. 19, we hosted this event. We advertised by e-mail and in local newspapers, and we had about 50 people from our parish and 150 people from all over the D.C. metro area. We had the talks, followed by a question and answer session and then a reception in the St. Francis Room. We were thrilled with the turnout as we had immigrants and leaders from parishes all around the metro area.

The bishops are clear about the needs of the suffering and also the right of nations to their security and sovereignty over their borders. Yet their document provides us with the opportunity to understand the long interwoven history of Christianity and migration and gives us the language we need to speak to those in legislative power. It also calls us to believe even more that God is love.

The bishops’ statement can be read using the link below.