September 16, 2019
Dear Midwest Jesuits/Colleagues, Directors of Works, and those who accompany migrants and refugees,
Greetings from the province office as we move into a new year of school and ministry.
In keeping with the new Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs), I want to inform you of an upcoming opportunity for your institution, organization or community.
Informed by Ignatian Discernment (UAP, #1), the Jesuit Provincials have successful petitioned for a meeting with Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, to express our concerns with the current treatment of migrants and asylum seekers (Walking with the Excluded, UAP #2). Among the concerns we will raise will be detention of migrant children (Journeying with Youth, UAP #3). We also realize that among the displacement push factors include not only gang violence but also environmental destruction (Care for our Common Home, UAP #4). The meeting will take place in Washington, DC on October 10 at the conclusion of our Fall Provincial’s meeting and will also include Fr. Sean Carroll, S.J., who directs the Jesuit sponsored Kino Border Initiative.
Today, you can find these resources on the website www.jesuits.org/migration
- (NEW) Statement of the Jesuit Provincials in anticipation for the Church’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees (September 29). By sharing this a few weeks early, we hope the message might be incorporated into homilies, petitions, bulletins, websites, classroom teaching, and local advocacy initiatives. The statement reflects the four themes which Pope Francis outlined in last year’s Message for the Day of Migrants and Refugees: Welcome, Protect, Promote, and Integrate. The website will also include an Advocacy Alert and several succinct Policy Briefings on family separation, and the turnback of migrants/asylum seekers or have them remain in Mexico.
- In October we will also share a new stream-able Jesuit Conference video reinforcing the September 29 message. My remarks, and those which I will share with the Acting Secretary, will also include the experience of Bellarmine Chapel (Cincinnati), a community which has accompanied a Salvadoran family for the past two years as they await their asylum ruling. This is but one example illustrating that community-based solutions far surpass current guidelines of indefinite detention or family separation which only further traumatize those who come to our borders seeking their rights as people who have been forcibly displaced. The case also illustrates the hardship and pain caused by multi-year delays for asylum court hearings and the need for additional government resources dedicated to resolving these cases.
Please contact our Provincial Assistant for Social and International Ministries, John Sealey or your respective Apostolic Assistant for additional information or advocacy recommendations.
In closing, let us remind ourselves that our Judeo-Christian heritage is rooted in multiple stories of exile and liberation where the chosen people found themselves—not by their own choosing—far away from home. As Christians, we are reminded that the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and Jesus himself as a newborn child needed to flee from violence as a poor, vulnerable family—part of our Lord’s “hidden life.” In these vulnerable migrant families today, we can see the plight of the Holy Family in the least of our brothers and sisters, created in the image and likeness of God. Thank you for your consideration of this invitation to participate through prayer, preaching, education and advocacy in this important initiative.
Sincerely in Christ,
V. Rev. Brian G. Paulson, S.J.
USA Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus