Two Jesuit parishes in the Pacific Northwest, St. Joseph Seattle and St. Leo Tacoma, joined together to coordinate a pilgrimage and Mass at the GEO-run Northwest Immigrant Detention Center on Saturday, August 25, 2018.  More than 500 faith-filled pilgrims prayed and sang for 1.6 miles from St. Leo to the Center where over 1,500 detainees are imprisoned while waiting for immigration hearings or deportation.

St. Joseph Parish members participate in the pilgrimage.

Frs. John Whitney, S.J., and Matt Holland S.J., pastors of St. Joseph and St. Leo respectively, concelebrated the Mass. Fr. Scott Santarosa, S.J., the provincial of the Jesuit West province delivered the homily, exhorting the pilgrims to “bridge all divides, and foster understanding among diverse peoples and cultures, and make people feel in the most real way at home.”  

(L-R) Fr. Scott Santarosa, S.J., Fr. John Whitney, S.J., and Fr. Matt Holland, S.J. celebrate Mass outside of the Northwest Immigrant Detention Center on Saturday, August 25, 2018.

During the event, signatures were collected on a petition for the reform of immigration policies in the United States, which will be delivered to local congressional offices. The event renewed energy for continuing work on behalf of immigrants and refugees.

Mass and pilgrimage participants share a meal after the event.

However, even more inspiring were the connections made with the help of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. Over 18 Jesuit parishes and works across the U.S. joined in the group of pilgrims in prayer or with their own activities. In the Jesuits West province that included St. Aloysius in Spokane, St. Ignatius in Portland, St. Ignatius in Sacramento and San Francisco, St. Agnes in San Francisco, Dolores Mission in Los Angeles, St. Francis Xavier in Missoula, the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center in Seattle, the Ignatian Spirituality Center in Seattle, and the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.

A Campaign for Hospitality banner outside the Northwest Immigrant Detention Center. St. Joseph Parish is a Campaign for Hospitality member institution.

Parishes in other parts of the country include St. Francis Xavier in St. Louis, Bellarmine Chapel at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Church of the Gesu in University Heights, OH, St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius in New York City, St. Ignatius in Chestnut Hill, MA, Holy Trinity in Washington D.C., St. Ignatius in Baltimore, and St. Thomas More in Atlanta.

Five of these parishes will be leading their own pilgrimage and Mass or prayer service at detention centers in their area: St. Ignatius in  Chestnut Hill, MA, Holy Trinity in Washington D.C. and St. Ignatius in Baltimore, and St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius in New York City.

All the Jesuit parishes and works that have joined in this endeavor have expressed interest in continuing collaborations related to immigration reform. Knowing that there is more important work to be done, an ongoing discussion will continue through the Jesuit Parish Collaboration Framework. The Ignatian Solidarity Network designed the initiative to deepen Jesuit parish connection to the Ignatian network by engaging in discernment, action, and advocacy as a parish network.


Dos parroquias jesuitas en el noroeste del Pacífico, San José de Seattle y San León de Tacoma, se unieron para coordinar una peregrinación y una misa en el Centro de Detención de Inmigrantes del Noroeste, dirigido por GEO, el sábado 25 de agosto de 2018. Más de 500 peregrinos devotos rezaron y cantaron durante 1,6 millas desde San León hasta el centro, donde más de 1500 detenidos se encuentran encarcelados mientras esperan que se celebren las audiencias de inmigración o su deportación.

Los miembros de la Parroquia San José participan en la peregrinación.

Los padres de la Compañía de Jesús, John Whitney y Matt Holland, pastores de San José y San León respectivamente, celebraron la misa conjuntamente. El padre también jesuita Scott Santarosa, provincial de la Provincia Jesuita del Oeste, pronunció la homilía, en la que exhortó a los peregrinos a “tender un puente sobre todas las divisiones, promover el entendimiento entre los diversos pueblos y culturas y hacer que las personas se sientan como en casa de la mejor forma posible”.  

(De izquierda a derecha.) Los padres de la Compañía de Jesús, Scott Santarosa, John Whitney y Matt Holland, celebran la misa fuera del Centro de Detención de Inmigrantes del Noroeste el sábado, 25 de agosto de 2018..

Durante el evento, se recogieron firmas para una petición de reforma de las políticas de inmigración en los Estados Unidos, que se entregará a las oficinas locales del Congreso. El evento renovó la energía para continuar trabajando a favor de los inmigrantes y refugiados.

Los participantes de la misa y de la peregrinación comparten una comida después del evento.

Sin embargo, aún más inspiradoras fueron las relaciones establecidas con la ayuda de la Red de Solidaridad Ignaciana. Más de 18 parroquias y obras jesuitas en todo Estados Unidos se unieron al grupo de peregrinos con oraciones o con sus propias actividades. En la Provincia Jesuita del Oeste que incluyó a Aloysius en Spokane, San Ignacio en Portland, San Ignacio en Sacramento y San Francisco, Santa Agnes en San Francisco, Misión Dolores en Los Ángeles, San Francisco Javier en Missoula, el Centro Intercomunitario de Paz y Justicia en Seattle, el Centro Ignaciano de Espiritualidad en Seattle, y la Iniciativa de la Frontera Kino en Nogales, Arizona y Sonora, México.

Una pancarta de la Campaña por la Hospitalidad afuera del Centro de Detención de Inmigrantes del Noroeste. La Parroquia de San José es una institución miembro de la Campaña por la Hospitalidad.

Entre las parroquias en otras partes del país se encuentran San Francisco Javier en San Luis, la Capilla Bellarmine de la Universidad Xavier en Cincinnati, la Iglesia del Gesù en University Heights, OH, San Francisco Javier y San Ignacio en la ciudad de Nueva York, San Ignacio en Chestnut Hill, MA, la Santísima Trinidad en Washington, D.C., San Ignacio en Baltimore y Santo Tomás Moro de Aquino en Atlanta.

Cinco de estas parroquias dirigirán su propia peregrinación y misa o servicio de oración en los centros de detención de su región: San Ignacio en Chestnut Hill, MA, la Santísima Trinidad en Washington D.C., San Ignacio en Baltimore y San Francisco Javier y San Ignacio en la ciudad de Nueva York.

Todas las parroquias y obras jesuitas que se han unido a este esfuerzo han expresado su interés en seguir colaborando en relación con la reforma migratoria. Sabiendo que hay más trabajo importante que hacer, continuarán con un debate permanente a través del Marco de Colaboración de las Parroquias Jesuitas. La Red de Solidaridad Ignaciana diseñó la iniciativa para profundizar el vínculo de las parroquias jesuitas con la red ignaciana, involucrándose en el discernimiento, la acción y la defensa como red parroquial.

BY LIZZIE HUDSON | September 19, 2018

When I was in fourth grade, I learned about immigration for the first time. I remember my teacher telling us about Ellis Island and all the people that came into our country looking for a better life.

She spoke about European immigrants as a simple matter of fact. Then she used a term that I will never forget: illegal alien. She used it to describe people who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. My ten-year-old self didn’t understand why she would use positive sounding words for one group of immigrants but not for the other.

An 18-foot border wall in Sunland Park, New Mexico, built near the end of the Obama Administration.

Fast forward to this past summer, to the days leading up to my border awareness trip with the Columban Mission Center in El Paso, as I was trying to figure out how I felt about going.

Was I nervous? No.

Was I excited? That didn’t quite describe my feelings.

I was just ready—ready to start the journey. This would be my first time on the border. I had only seen what it was like through the news and textbooks. I knew that I would be meeting immigrants who had just made it to the United States. While listening to their stories, I expected I would have to hold back tears. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

During one of the days, my group was asked to cook a meal for the guests staying at Annunciation House, a local shelter for migrants. We decided to make enough eggplant and chicken parmesan (and watermelon for dessert) for forty people. We chopped vegetables, tenderized chicken, and sliced bread for hours.

At the El Paso courthouse protesting family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Even with my whole group working on this task, I was tired when we finished. But then our guests started to arrive. We greeted everyone in broken Spanish. Once everyone got their food and sat down, I was immediately drawn to a table with children.

I love kids, and I have a niece back home who I was missing. Sitting at the table was their mother, a teenage girl, and Jorge, who is the same age as me. I don’t speak much Spanish and they didn’t speak much English. But instead awkward silences I expected, the girls and I ended up making goofy faces at each other.

We went back and forth seeing who could cross their eyes and touch their tongue to their nose. They were very good at crossing their eyes! I noticed that one of the girls had the Disney princess Anna on her shirt. I showed them the Disney emoji app on my phone, and then we started imitating all of the silly faces the emojis were making.

At the farm workers center in El Paso, learning about the harsh working conditions experienced by farm workers on a daily basis.

While the girls were occupied with the Disney app, Fr. Bob (a Columban priest and the Director of the Columban Mission Center) came over to the table and started talking to their mother in Spanish. I tried to listen to their conversation but the youngest girl kept tapping my face so I would pay attention to her. I gladly obliged. We continued to make faces and laugh together until they left to return to Annunciation House.

Now it was just me, Fr. Bob, and Jorge at the table. As Fr. Bob and Jorge started talking, he shared with us why he left his home in El Salvador. Jorge is an openly gay man. When he came out to his father, his father disowned him. His father literally removed his last name from Jorge’s name.

Without his family anymore, it was just Jorge and his boyfriend. They received death threats and were victims of violence, just for being in a relationship. One of their gay friends was beheaded. So they made the decision to flee together.

When they arrived at the U.S. border, they applied for asylum and were put in detention. In the detention center, the other migrants harassed Jorge and his boyfriend. They asked the guards for help but they turned a blind eye. He told us that he had thoughts of taking his own life because of all the pain he’d suffered.

After eight months in detention, Jorge was granted asylum. Unfortunately, his boyfriend is still inside.

When Jorge told us all this, I asked Fr. Bob to translate for me: “I’m glad you’re still here.” Fr. Bob asked him how is it that he’s able to share his story with such courage and openness. Jorge said that it’s simply by the grace of God, and that whenever he feels like crying he dances instead. Fr. Bob asked him what his favorite type of dance music is (bachata), then put some on. Jorge asked me if I would dance with him. Everyone else from my group joined in the dancing too.

Speaking with residents of the neighborhood of Duranguito about their efforts to combat neighborhood destruction to build a brand new baseball stadium.

As an advocate, it’s easy for me to get caught up in the process of passing bills or organizing rallies in order to make a systemic change. But being immersed in a border community like El Paso and forming relationships with individuals made me realize that I can forget about how there are people who need help right now.

Though I like to focus my energies on working for social justice, during my time at the border I was able to focus on charitable works. I met a lot of people there who weren’t as focused on systemic change as I am. They just want to be looked at as a human being, to have somewhere to eat and sleep.

El Paso opened my eyes to the importance of balance, that social justice and charitable works go together. Many people call this the “two feet of love in action.” So my goal for this fall semester back in Omaha is to make sure I’m walking with two feet, not one.

To learn more about the border and how you can stand in solidarity with your sisters and brothers who live there, consider signing up to receive a free copy of the Columban Center’s “Border Solidarity Toolkit.” It includes a number of activities for prayer, education, and action then can help you walk with both feet of love.