From the Justice For Immigrants - National Migration Conference

By Br. Robert Wotypka, OFM Cap

Lanyards and swag bags are the matter of a faith-centered Catholic conference, hearts and minds the form. Greetings from the vicinity of our nation’s capital, where John Celichowski and I, your useless servant Robert Wotypka, are representing the Province of Saint Joseph of the Capuchin Order and its Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation commission at the National Migration Conference hosted by the Justice for Immigrants office of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops. Or, to be more ecclesiological, Robert W. and John Cel have been sent to DC by the JPIC commission of the SJP to attend the JFI NMC sponsored by the USCCB. Thanks to the Saint Francis community at Capuchin College in Washington for their fraternal hospitality.

Last night we convened with Eucharist, Joe Vásquez, Bishop of Austin TX presiding, followed by a reception. This morning began with John Cel presiding at morning Mass, and today we will have panels and breakout sessions including but not limited to “Welcoming Strangers as our Sisters and Brothers” and “Breaking the Bonds: An Analysis of Current Trends and Challenges in the Fight Against Human Trafficking.” The city where I am assigned, Milwaukee, has for some years been afflicted with the curse and sin of human trafficking to a degree that has attracted national attention, and it is my pastoral duty to learn how to identify and thereby intervene in this crisis. And among several assignments John Cel is pastor at Saint Clare of Montefalco parish on Chicago’s Southwest side. He has come to make connections with the immigrant rights movement and thereby better position the parish to serve our newly arrived brothers and sisters.

In our call to “read the signs of the times and interpret them in the light of the Gospel,” (Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World) my discernment precludes me from entering the national conversation about immigration from a perspective of fear or threat. And I am obliged to welcome the stranger in fulfillment of God’s laws as revealed to our ancestors through Scripture (Lev 19:34; Deu 10:19; Heb 13:1). If media coverage and comments by public servants about the issue of refugees and immigrants has caused your heart to be troubled (Jn 14: 1), and if you seek understanding about the government policies that address people entering into the reality of coming to a new land, return to this site as you feel called, and John and I will share what has been revealed to us. Thank you.