Posts

BY KELLY SWAN | February 28, 2018

From February 11-18, 2018, the Jesuit and Catholic network in the United States captured the spirit of Valentine’s Day by showing love to their neighbor—regardless of immigration status.

The Love Your Neighbor Campaign, facilitated by the Ignatian Solidarity Network, united more than 5,000 individuals in efforts to support, advocate with, and affirm the dignity of those who migrate.  

A component of the Campaign for Hospitality, a two-year initiative aimed at building a more just and welcoming culture toward those who migrate, Love Your Neighbor focused on action, advocacy, and support.

Campaign actions included a fair-trade valentine “chocolategram” option in collaboration with Equal Exchange, a social media campaign utilizing #MigrantsWelcome, and a valentine-writing initiative to Congressional members throughout the U.S.

On Valentine’s Day volunteers from Holy Trinity Catholic Church, a Jesuit parish and ISN member institution in Washington, D.C., partnered with ISN to deliver nearly 200 valentines to the offices of U.S. senators and representatives who are graduates of Jesuit schools or serve a district or state in which a Jesuit institution is located.

Christine Brown, a parishioner at Holy Trinity, reflected on her experience of delivering valentines on what also happened to be the first day of Lent: “One of the comforts I wanted to give up for Lent was my daily routine and flex time. Walking through the halls of Congress on behalf of Holy Trinity parishioners who took time to sign the valentines felt like a better use of that time.”

She went on to share that “every staff person I encountered at each office was respectful and appreciative of the valentine delivery. A few had time to listen to our purpose of keeping migrants in mind on this St. Valentine’s Day as ‘We Love Thy Neighbor’ through our legislative decisions. A few of them opened it in front of me and even more admired the sticker.”

Holy Trinity Catholic Church staff and parishioners, including Christine Brown (second from right) delivered “Love Your Neighbor” Valentines to Congress.

Hundreds of additional valentines were created and delivered via mail, fax, or in-person by students, faculty, staff, and parishioners at Jesuit and other Catholic high schools, colleges, universities, and parishes.

“This Lent, we do not want to just put on a spectacle and bore people with refugee facts for these forty days; we want to change minds,” said Christian Conte, a freshman at Marist School in Atlanta, Georgia. “The Bible is a migration story. Jesus was a migrant, and nearby villages welcomed this stranger with open arms, hearts, and minds. Today, the topic of migration, immigration, and refugees has become too political, and many Christians and Catholics alike are forgetting what Pope Francis and the Catholic church support. Pope Francis encourages world-power countries, such as the United States, to build bridges instead of walls.”

Valentines included many personal stories from individuals directly affected by immigration policy, or who support peers, neighbors, and community members who have immigrated.

Henry Dowd, a freshman at Loyola Blakefield, a Jesuit high school in Maryland, wrote: “I come from a family of immigrants. My mother emigrated from Brazil. My father’s family is originally from Ireland. With the laws that our current president wants to implement, neither of them would have been able to come to America. I would not have ever been born. I implore you to make  Maryland a place of equality and safety for everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity.”

BY ISN STAFF | February 14, 2018

Nearly 200 members of Congress received a Valentine today, February 14, 2018, from the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN), inviting them to consider how they can “love their neighbor,” including those who are immigrants and refugees. The Valentines arrive to Capitol Hill as U.S. Senators debate immigration proposals, including a solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, offered by President Trump as well Senate members of both parties.  

Volunteers from Holy Trinity Catholic Church, a Jesuit parish and ISN member institution in Washington, D.C., partnered with ISN to deliver the Valentines to the offices of U.S. senators and representatives who are graduates of Jesuit schools or serve a district or state in which a Jesuit institution is located.

Holy Trinity Catholic Church staff and parishioners delivered “Love Your Neighbor” Valentines to Congress.

The message in the Valentines: Roses are red, Violets are blue. Our faith teaches us to love our neighbor, you should too!

Included with each Valentine was a cover letter that called on members to work for compassionate immigration policies that support family unity, provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and other undocumented young people, and promote humane and just treatment of those who migrate. It also encouraged Congress to rethink policy proposals that unnecessarily militarize the border and increase the vulnerability of individuals fleeing their countries in search of safety.

Fr. Donald McMillan, S.J., associate pastor at the Jesuit Parish of Saint Ignatius of Loyola in Chestnut Hill, MA, delivers a “Love Your Neighbor” Valentine to Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey.

The effort on Capitol Hill is a part of ISN’s  “Love Your Neighbor Campaign,” a Valentine’s Day-centered initiative designed to support those who migrate. Institutions across the country, including Loyola Blakefield High School in Towson, MD; Cristo Rey New York High School in New York City; and The University of Scranton, in Scranton, PA, will create and deliver Valentines to district offices in their home states.

“While Valentine’s Day is often a chance to celebrate one’s love for that special someone,” said Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, in a cover letter that was included with the Valentines, “It is a good time to also consider how we as a country show our love for our neighbors, including immigrant and refugee members of our communities — particularly as Congress debates the future for DACA recipients and immigrant families.”

Share the love: send your own Valentine’s Day message to your elected officials.

BY ISN STAFFOctober 3, 2017

In response to the Tuesday, September 5 announcement that the Trump administration would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Jesuit colleges and universities across the U.S. will participate in a Dream Action Week from October 9-13, 2017.

Focus will center around the Dream Act, a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate. The bill outlines a three-step pathway to citizenship “for people who are either undocumented, have DACA or temporary protected status (TPS), and who graduate from U.S. high schools and attend college, enter the workforce, or enlist in a military program.” This is a critical legislative opportunity to protect people who strengthen U.S. communities.

The action week, which was initiated at Loyola Marymount University, will invite administrative and student leaders at all Jesuit campuses to urge their campus communities to advocate for the Dream Act by calling their Senators, utilizing an action alert created in partnership with the Ignatian Solidarity Network. Each campus will plan additional educational, awareness, and advocacy events.

A card designed to promote Dream Act advocacy efforts on Jesuit campuses during Dream Action Week.

Last week, the student body presidents at all twenty-eight Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States released a letter in support of undocumented students and their allies, uniting as leaders on their campuses in response to the recent DACA decision and in anticipation of Dream Action Week.

Public Letter from Jesuit Student Government Association Presidents
September 28, 2017

In response to the recent announcement of the removal of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the student body Presidents of the twenty-eight Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States publicly stand in solidarity with our undocumented students and their allies. We, as a collective unit, acknowledge that this is a human issue that will impact over 800,000 members of our nation. Immigrants have played a crucial part in the foundation of this nation and have dreams and aspirations like any other person; these dreams should be preserved and kept sacred just as any other.

As colleges and universities rooted in the Jesuit traditions, our students are called to engage in the discourse and advocate for a more just and equitable world. In the face of injustice, we are challenged to practice a high level of discernment and allow our knowledge and experiences to inform our actions of being with and for others. It is important to emphasize that our unifying mission underlines the commitment to all people, regardless of national origin and documentation status. Any action and policy that seeks to divide and tear us apart should never be accepted and thereby calls for our total resistance to such.

With that being said, the student body Presidents of Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States will:

  • Work on behalf of our constituents to start the chain of calling our representatives.
  • Orchestrate educational efforts for students to learn more about the topics of immigration and DACA and how it relates to our Jesuit mission.
  • Strive to engage our students in dialogue and/or demonstrations that denounce the removal of this program.
  • Promote action off-campus to stand with the rest of the country in creating a greater understanding of the need for DACA and garnering more support of Congressional legislation.
  • Remind students of the appropriate resources on our respective campuses that support the spiritual, psychological, and emotional well-being of our students in order to uphold the value of cura personalis (care for the whole person).

With this statement, we encourage all students to treat this recent announcement of the removal of the DACA program as a call to action to stand with and contest this decision alongside those at the margins. We would like to highlight the importance of becoming educated on the matters at hand, participating in public protest, and communicating with your respective legislators to enact change. The understanding of our privilege must be utilized to realize our roles as higher education institutions in catalyzing social change in our contemporary world. We urge our peers across the country to stand together and for our undocumented students.

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published as part of the Ignatian Solidarity Network Voices for Justice blog series.

Migration is a complex issue that is reshaping the cultural, economic and political landscape of the planet. JustFaith Ministries is releasing a new program that offers the opportunity for small groups to engage in prayer, reading and reflection as well as discussion and discovery related to this critical and controversial issue of our day.