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AlphaCentauri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-08-09 06:02 PM
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2 nuns from Sisters of Mercy focus on jailed immigrants
Sister JoAnn Persch and Sister Pat Murphy enter the McHenry County Jail and set up their sacred space in the library.

Soon, the guard gets a nod, and 12 male immigrant detainees in orange jumpsuits come into the room and take their seats. Faces of trauma, fear and quiet rage confront the two Roman Catholic nuns.

But after a few moments of conversation, or with the touch of a sister's hand, nearly every man crumbles.

There is Baba, the Nigerian father who cries about being separated from his teenage son. Roberto, a 34-year-old Mexican, weeps about leaving his mother, who is dying of cancer. In a later group, Prisca, a jailed immigrant mother, asks the sisters to call her son and tell him she loves him.

About 250 of the 650 inmates in McHenry County Jail in Woodstock are immigrant detainees from around the world facing deportation. Persch, 75, and Murphy, 80, have become their unlikely spiritual advocates.

"The immigrant detainees are different than the criminal detainees," Persch said. "They most likely are never going to see their families again. They're going back to places that they don't know. ... They're afraid. They're very sad for their family, very worried about their family.

"It's like in an emergency room when they bring a chaplain in. There's nothing you can do, but your presence, your compassion, your prayer, that brings comfort to them."

For nearly three years, Persch and Murphy, who belong to the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas religious order, have fought for detained immigrants to gain more access to pastoral care. Like the nation's Catholic bishops, the sisters support passage of comprehensive Immigration reform legislation that they say would fix a broken system.

The remarkable lives of these sisters chronicle a turning point in American Catholicism, as many nuns have moved away from traditional roles with the institutional church and shifted to secular work or activism. Currently, the Vatican is investigating American nuns, causing Persch and Murphy concern that they will be directed back to working in the church. The sisters' Immigration efforts come as federal officials announce changes intended to make the deportation process more humane. On Thursday, Immigration officials took the first step by immediately ending the housing of families at a former prison in central Texas, deciding instead to send the detainees to a smaller facility or community homes.

In addition to their ministry in the McHenry jail twice a month, the sisters lead a weekly prayer service outside the federal detention center in Broadview, the last stop before deportation. Every Friday for the last 2 1/2 years, in all weather, they prayed the rosary and then boarded white buses to bless immigrants who were being sent out of the country. Since they started the Broadview ritual, the gathering has grown to include nearly two dozen clergy members and activists.

In support of Immigration reform, the nuns marched at rallies, spoke at news conferences and lobbied in Springfield, becoming so well known in immigrant and Catholic circles that they are often called just "The Sisters."

Last year, the nuns helped drive passage of historic legislation that allows all immigrant detainees held in Illinois jails the same access to clergy as those imprisoned for other crimes. Though the law went into effect in June, the sisters now say they are facing delays from jail officials in implementing a weekly time for immigrant pastoral care. They are also requesting permission to enter the Broadview facility to counsel and pray with detainees.

Ricardo Wong, director of detention and removal operations for Chicago's office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has denied their request, stating that Broadview is inappropriate for pastoral care because it is a temporary holding facility.

Murphy said: "I think they would love it if we just went away. But, they don't know us. We don't just go away."

The sisters are best known for starting Su Casa Catholic Worker House, a home for survivors of torture from Central America. After Su Casa, their personal life took on its own ministry when they began helping a mentally challenged single mother raise her young daughter. So, when not fighting for immigrant rights, they are foster moms to 13-year-old Clarice, picking her up from school, paying for singing and dance lessons and helping with high school admission.

"It's a lot of work, but she's brought so much joy into our lives," Persch said.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-sisters-im...
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imdjh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-08-09 06:44 PM
Response to Original message
1. 1,046,539 were naturalized in 2008
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AlphaCentauri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-09-09 12:45 AM
Response to Reply #1
6. a lot votes that could decide an election n/t
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imdjh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-09-09 08:24 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. The point being that the US is more than generous with offers of citizenship to foreigners.
Overly so.
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AlphaCentauri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-10-09 12:35 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. that means not only Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans, right?
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imdjh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-10-09 08:47 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. Why would we offer citizenship to Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans?
They are already citizens.
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AlphaCentauri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-10-09 09:55 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. The despots on the right refer to them as anchor babies n/t
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imdjh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-10-09 11:48 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. I defy you to find anyone who refers to a Puerto Rican as an anchor baby.
And the term is not universally applied to Mexican-Americans. People who use the term "anchor-baby" usually know precisely what it means. Anchor-babies will ultimately be the reason for much stricter sponsorship policy which is already in the works.
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AlphaCentauri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-10-09 03:40 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. For right wing despots all Latinos are Mexicans
that was evident on Sotomayor's confirmation hearings, they were talking about La Raza.
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Itchinjim Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-08-09 07:16 PM
Response to Original message
2. My mother was a nurse who was taught by the Sisters of Mercy,
and I and my seven siblings were brought into this world by them. God Bless 'em, they're nothing like those horrible psycho BVM's
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AlphaCentauri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-09-09 12:18 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. I was brought to this world by Carmelita nuns
Many catholics dedicate their entire live to serve society but sadly they are not recognized unless they are tie corporate greed or die as martyrs
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Laelth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-08-09 08:13 PM
Response to Original message
3. I was taught by Sisters of Mercy.
They are an excellent, activist, and truly Christian order.

:dem:

-Laelth
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JerseygirlCT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-08-09 08:35 PM
Response to Original message
4. Doing God's work, for sure. nt
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Kingofalldems Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-08-09 08:41 PM
Response to Original message
5. I was taught by the Sisters of Mercy also
Very dedicated to their work.
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