On July 17, the Diocese of San Jose (DSJ) had a Prayer Vigil for Immigration Reform and for the Dignity of Migrant Families. The event was held at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph in San Jose and was presided by Bishop Patrick J. McGrath.
The Vigil was a response to the Trump Administration’s policy of removing children from their parents at the US/Mexico border, which has resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents.
The Vigil was organized by the DSJ Office of Liturgy and Office of Social Justice Ministries, with support from Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County.
At the beginning of the liturgy, Bishop McGrath greeted, “Good evening and welcome to our Diocesan Prayer Vigil for the reunification of families that have been separated both here in our own diocese and at the border. During these trying times it is good to come together, as a community of faith, to pray and stand in solidarity with our migrant brothers and sisters,” said the Bishop. As we gather tonight, let us remember that there are many others whom cannot be here with us, either because they have been detained or they are living in fear of coming to public events such as this one. Thus, may our prayers and the stories we hear tonight inspire us to boldly act with justice for immigrants and refugees.”
In his statement on the separation of children from their families on the border, Bishop McGrath said, “The separation of detained minor children from their parents is un-American, un-Christian and inhumane. This practice is mean-spirited and betrays our nation’s tradition of welcome to migrants and refugees.”
Leading civil rights organizations including the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center have criticized Trump’s policy for being used as a “deterrent” for asylum seekers, most of who are fleeing from wide-spread violence and political repression in Central America.
The Catholic community wished to express solidarity with migrant families and to encourage the faith community and their allies to work together to advocate for real, comprehensive, and compassionate immigration reform.
“The lack of follow-through to unify families by the administration is itself morally unacceptable,” says Father Jon Pedigo, the Director for Advocacy and Community Engagement at Catholic Charities Santa Clara County.
After the Vigil, attendees were invited to participate in a hospitality hour in which they had the opportunity to meet and get involved with organizations that advocate for immigration reform.