BY CHRISTOPHER KERR | April 2, 2017
In my work at the Ignatian Solidarity Network, I have the opportunity to join passionate colleagues from across the country for regular “coalition calls” to discuss the ways that the faith-based community can advocate for humane migration and refugee policies.
As executive orders were announced by the new administration this winter, the mood during these calls was one of disheartenment and desolation, particularly in light of our new president’s history of taking direct aim at existing regulations designed to protect the dignity of immigrants and refugees who are most vulnerable.
Call participants began to share stories of immigrants and refugees already being directly impacted by the changing policies: immigrant families choosing not to attend church services or send their children to school out of fear of deportation; refugees stopped at international airports hours before flights to the U.S. and turned away; and undocumented young people detained amid questionable circumstances despite having Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status.
While each situation had its unique characteristics, they all shared a common theme — a sense of great loss, as if hope had died for these immigrant and refugee sisters and brothers.
In the weeks that have followed, the sense of desolation is still a reality — it cannot be avoided. However, among the coalition members there is also a sense of hope.
It is grounded in a belief that in the midst of challenging realities that face immigrant and refugee communities, there are small steps that we can take as advocates, as companions — that we can be givers of life.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives Lazarus “life” when he asks him to come out from the darkness of the tomb. Through this miracle we experience the hope that Jesus can provide for our world, even amid great desolation. Our coalition partners offer that same hope, showing that there are small glimmers of “life” and hope we can provide to brothers and sisters who migrate.
- What are the experiences of migrants and refugees in your community?
- How can you be a giver of “life” and “hope” to them?
Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published as part of the Ignatian Solidarity Network Rise Up: A Lenten Call to Solidarity series.
Chris joined the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) as executive director in 2011. He has over fifteen years of experience in social justice advocacy and leadership in Catholic education and ministry. Prior to ISN he served in multiple roles at John Carroll University, including coordinating international immersion experience and social justice education programming as an inaugural co-director of John Carroll’s Arrupe Scholars Program for Social Action. Prior to his time at John Carroll he served as a teacher and administrator at the elementary and secondary levels in Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. Chris speaks regularly at campuses and parishes about social justice education and advocacy, Jesuit mission, and a broad range of social justice issues. He currently serves on the board of directors for Christians for Peace in El Salvador (CRISPAZ). Chris earned a B.A. and M.A. from John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio. He and his family reside in Shaker Heights, Ohio.