By Elisabeth Román
Photos by EnREDaT
Rain did not keep thousands from gathering in a special Eucharistic celebration to honor DREAMers, immigrants, and the undocumented children from Central America held in federal detention and processing facilities. Under the theme of “Communion and Mission,” the Mass was presided by Rev. Rosendo Urrabazo, C.M.F., Provincial Superior, Claretian Missionaries, USA; and concelebrated by Rev. Benjamín Romero-Arrieta, C.M.F., pastor of our Lady of Guadalupe in Chicago, and Rev. Mark Brummel, C.M.F.
“When I was crossing the desert, I would have given anything for the rain we had today. When I was hungry in the desert, I yearned for the bread we were given in today’s Mass. This is one of the greatest days I’ve experienced in this country,” said a woman in a wheelchair, drenched in rain, who stayed for the entire liturgy with her 90-year-old mother.
Claretian Missionaries were invited by Pilsen Neighbors Community Council (PNCC) to celebrate an outdoor liturgy at Fiesta del Sol, a four-day event that gathers over 1.2 million people each year. This was the first time in festival’s 42-year history that a celebration of faith was added. “PNCC and the Claretians made history in Fiesta del Sol,” said Juan F. Soto, Executive Director of PNCC. “Fiesta del Sol is always seeking to bring the community together in a celebration of family and culture. This year we added faith to the mix as a way of gathering Hispanics and non-Hispanics in support of immigrants and young people seeking ways to attain an education, a job, and contribute to the United States’ cultural, social, economic, and political arenas.”
The Claretians’ Hispanic Ministry Resource Center spent nine months planning and coordinating the logistics for this historic celebration, working closely with Claretian Missionaries, PNCC, Enreda-T, Tribeza, and the Archdiocese of Chicago Office of Immigrant Affairs and Immigrant Education, among a long list of others collaborators and volunteers. “We remember in a special way during our Mass the many young people who were brought here as children and have grown up in our schools, pledged allegiance to our flag, and who want to continue their education and take their place among the citizens of this great land. We call them dreamers, for they have been raised to believe in the American Dream. They are citizens in their hearts and minds. Now we ask Congress to make the citizens under the law,” Father Urrabazo said in his homily.
Senator Dick Durbin, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Lt. Governor of Illinois Sheila Simon, State Representative Tom Cross (who supported giving driver’s licenses to the undocumented), and Alderman Daniel Solís (who represents the city’s largest Hispanic community on the City Council), took part in the celebration, among other political and Hispanic community leaders, expressing their support for immigrants, DREAMers, and the unaccompanied children during the celebration.
“While we have our own challenges at home, we cannot turn our backs on children who are fleeing danger,” Mayor Emanuel said during the opening ceremony prior to the mile-long procession that began the Mass. “Everyone of us are children, grandchildren or great grandchildren whose families at one place or another dreamed of a promi
sed of America. The thousands of children at the border, who left violence, are welcomed in the City of Chicago. The issue with the children is a growing humanitarian crisis that could no longer be ignored and the city is welcoming 1,000 Central American children,” he said.
Senator Durbin, who presented the Dream Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) said, “This is a Mass dedicated to the DREAMers. These are young men and women who have come to the U.S. not by their own choice, who have lived here, and now they are asking for a chance to prove themselves.”
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