Word for Word 5/23/18

O​n Friday May 11th, an ecumenical gathering took place to mark the 10th anniversary of the Immigration raid at Postville.  Over 300 people attended THE SUMMONS, as it was entitled, at St. Bridget Church. An interfaith prayer service took place, including inspiring talks by many who were present during that very troubling time.  During May of 2008,  there were 389 arrests, numerous imprisonments, and the threat of mass deportation of many employees of Agriprocessors.   Many families were split up, and those left behind had feelings of abandonment and the worry of facing an uncertain future.

Attorneys and activists who helped counsel those affected by the raid were present to speak at the anniversary gathering. Ministers and clergy members of several faiths who united their congregations ten years ago to give sanctuary and aid to family members in need shared their memories.  Most memorable were the stories and testimonies of the people directly affected by the raid.

Those of us with legal status as citizens may think that people who break the law get what they deserve. It is important for all of us to realize the far reaching affects of our immigration policies on the local economy and network of relationships in our communities.

It is important to remember that just about all of us with European ancestry are only three or four generations removed from being immigrants ourselves. The Scriptures, Hebrew and Christian, command us to welcome the immigrants and refugees in our midst. Jesus, in his parable of the Last Judgement, thanks those who welcomed the stranger, instructing that when we welcome one of the least ones, we welcome Jesus himself.

Part of THE SUMMONS is to encourage our political leaders and legislators to work across political divides to fashion comprehensive immigration reform for the common good.

Let’s build bridges, not walls, as we reflect on what happened in Postville ten years ago.

Fr. Mark Osterhaus
St. Patrick Parish, Waukon
St. Mary Parish, Hanover
St. Mary Parish, Dorchester

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