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Statement on National Migration Week from Sister Patricia McDermott, President of the Sisters of Mercy

January 03, 2018

“You shall not oppress or afflict a stranger, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Ex. 22:20)

In conjunction with National Migration Week (Jan. 7-13, 2018) and in union with Pope Francis’ call to Share the Journey with migrants and refugees, Sister Patricia McDermott, RSM, President of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, issued the following statement:

“During National Migration Week – and every day – the Sisters of Mercy stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who are forced by poverty, persecution or violence in their native countries to flee their homes, loved ones and livelihoods, desperately seeking safety and the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families. We renew our call for an immediate end to the unjust and immoral treatment of migrants and refugees, recognizing that decades of failed U.S. political and economic policies have contributed to the reasons people have fled homelands. Rather than blaming migrants and fanning anti-immigrant sentiment that divides our nation, we call for an end to policies that dehumanize immigrants and refugees and lead to the separation of families. We seek the prompt passage of a clean Dream Act by Congress and the restoration and continuation of Temporary Protected Status for migrants from Haiti and Central America. We also call for an end to expedited deportations, the travel bans affecting the citizens of eight nations, and the long-term detention of immigrant men, women and children.

“As Pope Francis reminds us: “How can we not see the face of the Lord in the face of the millions of exiles, refugees, and displaced persons who are fleeing in desperation from the horror of war, persecution and dictatorship?””

During National Migration Week the Sisters of Mercy will feature a seven-day series of content focused on our story of walking with immigrants. This will begin with historical accounts of the arrival of the Sisters of Mercy to the United States in 1843. The Sisters were themselves immigrants from Ireland, invited by Pittsburgh Bishop Michael O’Connor to minister to the spiritual and educational needs of fellow immigrants. The series, Mercy for Immigrants: Share the Journey, will explore the experiences of immigrants to the United States throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, concluding with the current work of the Sisters of the Mercy, who continue to welcome and minister to immigrants from Mexico, Central America, the Middle East and many other regions.

Overview of Content:

Day 1: A video explaining how the Sisters of Mercy, themselves immigrants from Ireland, were called to minister to immigrants in the 1800s: Watch the video;

Day 2: An overview of anti-immigrant sentiment in the 19th century, mirrored so often in the rhetoric of our own times;

Day 3: A video depicting Sisters caring for orphaned immigrant children in the 1800s  – the Sisters of Mercy cared for children in dioceses throughout the U.S., many of whom had left their homelands with their parents and arrived in America as orphans;

Day 4: Stories of the response of the Sisters of Mercy to the wave of immigrants from S.E. Asia beginning in the 1970s, a diaspora spurred by the Vietnam War and the fall of Saigon when up to one million Vietnamese refugees arrived in the U.S.;

Day 5: Video and stories of how decades of U.S. foreign and economic policies in Central America, which propped up authoritarian regimes and fed civil wars, fueled the conditions that continue to drive migration today;

Day 6: Story of the Migrant Education Project, a mobile migrant school run by the Sisters of Mercy for children whose families followed the crops from Fremont, Ohio to Plant City, Florida in the 1990s.

Day 7: The work of the Sisters of Mercy with immigrants continues in the 21st century, welcoming and ministering to immigrants from Mexico, Central America, the Middle East and other regions experiencing war, violence, persecution and poverty.

 There will be featured content for National Migration Week on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MercySisters/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/sistersofmercy or @SistersofMercy).

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