Just following orders
By Marilyn Kofler, SP
“I was a stranger and you received me in your homes… in prison and you visited me.” These words from Matthew 25 are the force driving the mission of the Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants (SBI). Founded in January 2007 in the Archdiocese of Chicago, SBI is dedicated to protecting the dignity of all God’s children.
Initially the organization concentrated on the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform initiatives coupled with volunteer members from congregations of women religious. Today, SBI’s membership consists of men and women’s religious congregations and associates. As sisters and brothers of immigrants, we reverence the dignity of each person, and each person’s fundamental right to life—food, shelter and clothing, employment, health care, and education.
SBI’s membership numbers 170 from 58 congregations, and most of them have been working with immigrants since they came to the US. As the migration of peoples across the globe impacts not only the lives of new immigrants but also the lives of those who are now citizens, the needs of these new immigrants have expanded exponentially.
SBI sees the value of our joint efforts when we start dealing with the need to stand in solidarity–human rights–advocacy. We see the value of a collective voice–one of us may come to a meeting or receive the information, but we have hundreds of vowed religious and associates we can invite to stand with us. When we stand together, we are a powerful force.
We have educated, advocated and served in many ways. Our Pastoral Care Committee has made a difference over the years at detention centers in Broadview and McHenry, Illinois. Every Friday morning at 7:15 am people of faith join together in a prayer vigil at Broadview Immigration Processing Center to support those who are in immigration detention, the families of those in detention, and be a public witness to the injustices of our immigration system.
Other SBI undertakings have been carried out in collaboration with the Priests for Justice for Immigrants. One example is the establishment of San Toribio Romo Immigration Center to which SBI made a significant donation. Many of our members are in direct ministry to immigrants and their families. Others facilitate the ministry of those members. Retired members of our religious congregations are actively involved in contacting their state and federal legislators as well as praying for comprehensive immigration reform.
From prayer to lobbying government representatives to gain support for a compassionate immigration reform, the sisters and brothers recognize the urgent duty and challenge to stand in solidarity with immigrants. Relying on the wisdom, courage and counsel of the Holy Spirit, SBI is committed to call forth government’s responsibility to promote human dignity, to protect human rights and to build the common good. And we do this in response to the Gospel call.
In what ways can you commit to defending of the human rights of immigrants? Do you know someone who is going through a difficult time because of his or her status? How can you help?