St. Francis in Raleigh Pushes for Immigration Reform

HNP Communications Around the Province

RALEIGH, N.C. — Members of the Catholic Community of St. Francis Assisi here answered the call on Sunday, June 10 from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to get involved in the immigration issue.

On the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, the friars focused homilies and prayers on the Gospel and the teachings of the Church in light of the current issue of immigration now being debated across the country.

Pastor Mark Reamer said, “This weekend here at St. Francis, we’re focused on educating parishioners about immigration so that we might form our conscience based on the teachings of the church and in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Following the liturgies, parishioners were invited to sign postcards that will be sent to members of Congress.  The goal was to encourage lawmakers to continue discussions on an immigration reform bill that appears to have lost support in Congress. More than 2400 postcards were filled out by parishioners across the five weekend liturgies.

The postcards were designed to express concern that the Senate has failed to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform. In addition to encouraging the need for this reform, the postcards emphasized the need for legislators to provide the leadership necessary to make changes and to support the five points on immigration that the Catholic bishops are calling for.  These include:

  1. Earned legalization program for undocumented workers
  2. Family based reforms
  3. Worker protection
  4. Restoration of due process
  5. Policies that address the root causes of migration

Addressing the issue of why the Church has inserted itself into the public struggle for immigration reform that respects the plight and the human dignity of 12 million undocumented workers, David McBriar said in his homily that “…feeding the poor, the lonely, the homeless, the stranger, going the extra mile for the rejected, taking the cause of those on life’s margins, cannot be separated from ‘This is my body; this is my blood. Do this in memory of me.’ Crying out for the Body of Christ, the People of God is something insistently honest, unrelentingly real. It happens among us whenever and wherever power gives way to service, alienation to healing, wealth to generosity, individualism to community, war to peace.”

Acknowledging that immigration reform is not an easy issue, The Franciscan Coalition for Justice and Peace held a facilitated opinion forum, “Voices Heard” on June 17 as a way to hear many points of view from parishioners.  More than 75 people showed up to express and to listen to each other’s opinions.

This recent event was another way to learn more about this issue — a way to speak together and hear one another in a safe and respectful way.

— Megan Nerz is director of the Franciscan Coalition at Raleigh’s St. Francis of Assisi parish. She can be reached at megan.Nerz@stfrancisraleigh.org