Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Happy Labor Day.  In his book, Spirituality at Work, Gregory Pierce encourages us to seek the presence of God in our work.  Why? The simplest answer he explains is that “most of us spend so much of our time working that it would be a shame if we couldn’t find God there.  A more complex reason is that there is a creative energy in work that is somehow tied to God’s creative energy.  If we can understand and enter into that connection, perhaps we can use it to transform the workplace into something quite remarkable.”  May this commemoration of Labor Day remind us to seek the presence of God in all that we are and all that we do, and also encourage us to do the work of social justice.

Thank you to Sue Mathys who spoke at each of the liturgies last weekend and thank you to all who have already sent in your pledge cards!  Jesus invites us to be His disciples and our response is our stewardship.  Please take a few moments to prayerfully consider your sacrificial gift to support the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi through your stewardship of time, talent, and treasure.

Two weeks ago Cardinal McCarrick spoke to us about immigration reform.  As Franciscans, we are committed to the work of social justice.  In this pursuit we have taken on comprehensive immigration reform, one of the significant areas of injustice in our times.  In this work, the question, “Why don’t they come here legally?” invariably is raised.  The answers to this question are at the heart of the comprehensive immigration reform effort.

When asked, this question presupposes the existence of a feasible and workable legal process for immigrants to enter the U.S.  The premise often is born of a nostalgia that our forefathers and foremothers went through such a process.  In both cases, the assumptions are not valid.

Most of the European immigrants who came to the U.S. did not go through stringent federal “legal” channels because they did not exist.  For example, Ellis Island, a port of entry for many, was only a place to screen (ensure that new arrivals were not diseased and asked questions to make sure that they were not a danger to society), register (simply record their name in the registry) and welcome the newcomer.  There is no such process today.  In fact, under the current laws, no “line” for lawful immigration to the United States exists for the majority of our immigrants.  Today, the avenues of entry are very few and very narrow.  These paths, taken as a whole, do not even allow entry to enough immigrants to cover the U.S.’s growing employment needs (even during a recession).  In addition to the narrow nature of the system, the process is unrealistically lengthy and results in divided families.

When advocates for comprehensive immigration reform state that the “current system is broken,” they are referring, at least in part, to this narrow and unrealistic set of entry paths. The U.S. Catholic Bishops and the Franciscans have joined with many others to declare that our current immigration laws must be reformed to meet our country’s need for labor and to facilitate the reunification of families.

To get a more complete understanding of why immigrants find it nearly impossible to enter the U.S. through legal means, please read the full brief from the USCCB.

In the peace of Christ,

Fr. Mark

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