On Friday, September 14, 150 members of the Denver Vincentian Family gathered at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 1555 Grant Street to create awareness, to enhance our vision and to plan our individual and collective response to the issue of Immigration in the United States. Our theme was Challenging Voices. Healing Voices. How Can We Be Silent? As we shared a meal together, we intentionally sat with members from the various branches of the Vincentian Family, giving us the opportunity to know one another and to hear many different perspectives.
Fr. Guillermo Campuzano, CM, the delegate from The Congregation of the Mission to the United Nations, initiated the evening with many challenges, including:
- Globalization which leads to our interconnectivity. We are not living in an isolated world.
- The diversity of the world, recognizing our own growing diversity in the United States.
- Catholic Social Teaching which affirms the right for any human being to migrate; at the same time countries have a right to regulate their borders. How do we approach these sometimes conflicting rights with justice and with mercy?
- Separation of children from their families as a violation of human rights
The focus of these challenges created the climate for offering a healing presence for each participant to consider. Aline Cervantes told her story as an immigrant from Mexico, sharing some of the joys and the struggles she has endured in her short 20 years. How can we as Vincentians respond to the need for healing – healing for those who have migrated here from other countries yet have no rights, healing for our nation, healing for individuals fleeing war, violence, economic hardship at home. Do we see the person without documentation in our neighborhood and offer hospitality? Do we pray for healing for individuals who come to the United States for protection and find themselves victims of human trafficking? Do we offer sanctuary in our churches, city, state?
How can we be silent? Atim Otii, Immigration Lawyer with Lutheran Family Services, shared with the participants the process for citizenship that is in place here in the United States. Needless to say, at its worst it is difficult. Once we have become awakened and aware of the complexity of the systemic changes that our country needs concerning immigration laws, how can we be silent? How do we use our voice to share with others in our own communities about the injustices? How do we vote, considering those who live here without documentations? How do we use our voice in Congress, writing to our representatives or otherwise publicly sharing our views and what we have learned?
Challenging Voices, Healing Voices, How CAN We Be Silent? As we ended the evening, each member chose an action step and a statement of something they learned to take to their branch of the Vincentian Family. Collectively and individually we will not be silent. We will speak and act. Let us voice our own concerns; let us speak with our voting; let us write letters; let us learn more; let us enter into relationship with those who are different from ourselves; let us pray; let us heed the call of Pope Francis who says, “Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all, for being more.”
*Note: The Denver Vincentian Family consists of Center for Spirituality at Work, Colorado Vincentian Volunteers, Sisters of Charity and Associates, Society of St. Vincent De Paul, Vincentian Brothers and Priests.