The Edmond Sun

Local News

December 2, 2013

Archbishop blesses ‘Hungry 4 Justice’ participants in metro

Catholics push Congress to act on immigration reform

OKLA. CITY — Jessica Vazquez, speaking of her experiences during fasting for almost two weeks, said for her the most emotional moment was the prayerful procession from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Oklahoma City to the Holy Angels Catholic Church.

The procession included a time for placing photos of loved ones on the altar. Despite the inclement weather, Vazquez said she was cheered by the turnout.

“It just really motivated me to ask ‘What can we do next?’” said Vazquez, an Oklahoma City University student.

Hungry 4 Justice, which began Nov. 22 and ended Monday, reflected on the situation of the immigration population in Oklahoma and coincided with a national effort of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to call attention to the need for immigration reform, said Oklahoma City Archdiocese Archbishop Paul Coakley.

Young adults from Dream Act Oklahoma fasted for 11 days, representing the estimated number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. They engaged the public through informational workshops, movies, discussions and open mic nights, when immigrants shared stories of detention, deportation and hope.

Monday morning at Holy Angels Catholic Church, 317 N. Blackwelder Ave., Catholic leaders offered encouragement and listened as they spoke about their experiences.

“Your witness is very powerful,” Coakley said.

Father Mike Chapman, pastor of Holy Angels Catholic Church, said he was impressed with their global view of things.

“You’re awakening great hope in me for the future,” Chapman said.

Coakley said fasting, a spiritual discipline rooted in the Bible (Jesus fasted and prayed in the desert for 40 days), is commonly practiced during the season of Lent. Fasting as explained by the U.S. bishops means partaking of only one full meal. It is an act of self-denial, a time for inner reflection, praying and listening to what, perhaps, God is saying, Coakley said.

In an e-postcard available to parishioners, national Catholic leaders urge Congress to pass immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, preserves family unity as a cornerstone of the nation’s immigration system and provides legal paths for low-skilled immigrant workers to come and work in the United States.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, supported the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, which passed in the Senate, but stalled in the House. Reid also supported the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, which was blocked, preventing a final vote.

In June, the Senate passed the bipartisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act by a 68-32 margin. Reid says the bill would continue the work of securing the borders, improve the legal immigration system and require the estimated 11 million undocumented people in the U.S. to obtain legal status.

Reid also supports the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (Dream Act), which would let young people who graduated from high school in the U.S. and stayed out of trouble apply for conditional legal immigration status.

A few weeks ago, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters immigration reform was not dead. He said he welcomed President Obama’s remarks signaling his willingness to accept a step-by-step approach to immigration reform, an approach Republicans long have supported.

“The American people are skeptical of big, comprehensive bills,” Boehner said at the time.

Chapman said people in power need to act on behalf of the powerless in a sustained manner.

Before Hunger 4 Justice began, Coakley encouraged the more than 120,000 Catholics in the archdiocese to join the fasters in praying for a resolution for all those who live in uncertainty and insecurity.

The House is in session for eight days this month, from the Dec. 1-4 and from Dec. 9-12, according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s schedule. | 341-2121, ext. 108

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