A Plea From Secular Franciscans Standing with Immigrant Families

Roger and Marilyn Yockey are both Secular Franciscans who live in Washington State. They are pictured here, holding the banner, with FAN member Dianne Aid, who is also very active in the Seattle/Tacoma area. The Yockeys have supported FAN’s efforts in peacekeeping by attending the annual rally to close the School of the Americas and allowing us to post their reflections and photos.
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Here they have sent us a letter addressed to fellow Seculars about a weekend rally at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Today [May 3, 2014] I was at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington for a rally of peaceful protestors, and hunger strikers inside this horrible for-profit prison. I heard from Bernarda Pineda of Everett, Washington. Her husband has been held at the Northwest Detention Center since December 27, 2013 after a minor traffic violation. She has been left to take care of four children. Last week, this wife and mother called police to report her car stolen. Police came, questioned her about her immigration status, and handcuffed her in front of the four children. She spoke today at the rally about the devastation immigration enforcement has created in her own family’s life.
Then there is the example of Miguel Armenta Olabarria, a detainee living with HIV, Hepatitis C, and cancer. He remains detained and continues to get inadequate medical care. And the list goes on about the horrible treatment and human rights violations.
But where are we as Secular Franciscans on deportations and immigrations? I read a lot, but I sure have not seen many Secular Franciscans at the Northwest Detention Center. And I do not read much in Secular Franciscan newsletters at national, regional, or local levels. This is a moral issue. It is a civil rights issue.
When I professed as a Secular Franciscan, I promised to follow the rule of the Secular Franciscan Order. Part of that rule is number 5, “Secular Franciscans, therefore, should seek to encounter the living and active person of Christ in their brothers and sisters, in Sacred Scripture, in the Church, and in liturgical activity.” I see the person of Christ in all that–but I also saw Him today in the three young children in the back seat of a small car, in the front was their mother. And in the detention center was the husband and father!
But today I also saw Christ in a group of young women, students at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma with such signs as “your struggle is my struggle” and “not one more deportation.”
Today, a TSSF, Third Order Secular Franciscan, the Episcopal/Anglicans, sent out a call for a Mother’s Day Vigil this year at the Northwest ICE Detention Center. This woman and other Secular Franciscans of the Episcopal/Anglican Communion, have often been at the NW Detention Center.
As we well know, our Order is aging and membership is declining. A good friend wrote me yesterday and said she wanted to know more about Franciscan spirituality. She and I will talk, but for me Franciscans are people of prayer and action. And this woman is a person of deep faith and action, but it is becoming more difficult to see the emphasis on action in regards to the crucial issue of immigration, detention and deportation. The Secular Franciscan Order in the USA MUST be in the vanguard, the front ranks of this. Immigrants are not strangers–they are our Sisters and Brothers.
Perhaps I am throwing stones when there is indeed a beam in my own eye. But I cannot and will not be silent, inactive when two million immigrants have been deported, families separated, people dying in the desert, and there is no comprehensive, compassionate immigration reform with a quick, inexpensive path to full citizenship.
Please, let Secular Franciscans be leaders, and not just talk the talk, but walk the walk.
Hasta la Victoria!
Roger Yockey, OFS
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Published in: on May 5, 2014 at 12:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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