Over 700 attended a celebration of the Mass at Holy Name Catholic Church on Sunday, April 6. People were invited to write the names of their deported family and friends on posters at the back of Church or sheets of paper passed in through the pews. At times, the church was full of sadness and people wept as they wrote down the names of over 150 deported family and friends.
Fr. Tom Glennon of the Columban Fathers helped collect names and he said afterward “the deep sadness was palpable. The faces of sorrow and pain are etched in my heart. Tears welled in my eyes at the unspoken loss of loved ones to deportation.” Redemptorist Fr. Mike McAndrew preached about the need for us to support families of the deported and to work for reform of the U.S. immigration laws. At the end of the Mass, the whole community asked God’s blessing on the deported and their families. About 40 people stayed after Mass for a bilingual discussion about how the current law affects immigrants and what OTOC can do to work for reform of our nation’s immigration laws.
OTOC’s Immigration Action team has worked for three years to reduce the number of people who are detained in the county jail and eventually deported from Omaha. They have met repeatedly with the Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer and his staff to discuss how local police can accept the Mexican “matricula consular” and other alternatives to driver’s licenses in order to appropriately identify immigrants who are stopped for traffic violations or other minor infractions. OTOC leaders have also met regularly with members of Congress and organized prayer vigils to educate officials and the public about the need for the U.S. Congress to adopt comprehensive immigration reform. They now plan to organize workshops in local congregations.