Pray for the Journey: Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants

Image of a sister standing vigil for immigrants in ChicagoSister Maureen McCarthy, OSF contributed this post sharing her experience of Jan. 23, 2012:

Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants faithfully gather on early Friday mornings to pray for immigration reform and to offer a blessing to those who will be deported that day from the Broadview Detention Center in Chicago, Illinois. The prayer takes place just outside the main entrance of the detention center. Rain or shine, cold and freezing … in whatever weather, the prayer vigil goes on.

While most of the group that gathers remains outside, one or two members are allowed inside the detention facility just as the vans and buses are about to leave. This Friday I was invited to go in with Franciscan Friar Ed Shea to offer prayers and a blessing for about a 100 immigrant men. A guard opened the back door of two black vans. Each van held about 12 men, cramped in darkness and chained together – a steel-grate separating us. Nearby another 50 detainees sat loaded on a bus. They, too, were chained together, but at least the bus had frosted window panes.

The experience was simultaneously gut-wrenching and uplifting, as the deportees closed their eyes and prayed with us – that an all-loving and compassionate God would be with them on the journey, would guide and protect them, would help them one day be reunited with loved ones, and that God would bless and protect their spouses and children left to fend for themselves.

Ours is a small, but not insignificant gesture of solidarity. For brief moments our eyes meet, our hearts touch, we know we share a common humanity. Our immigrant brothers and sisters in detention live a dark night of the soul. They may find themselves in chains, but as long as this mad system lingers on, none of us is truly free.

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Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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