Sister Rose Marie Tresp Fasts for Immigrant Justice
December 11, 2013
By Myra Joines, South Central Communications Department
Sister Rose Marie Tresp, RSM, of Belmont, N.C., a Sister of Mercy for 46 years, has advocated for fair treatment of immigrants in the U.S. for many years, particularly since she became director of justice for the Sisters of Mercy – South Central Community in 2008.
But when the call came to join the Fast for Immigrant Justice that began on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 12, 2013, she hesitated because of her busy schedule advocating for and educating others on a variety of justice issues. “But all I could think about was the faces of the people I’ve met who are immigrants. I’ve seen the hardships they’ve endured escaping from violence and poverty in their countries.”
And when she pictured those faces she knew she couldn’t say no, so she volunteered to travel to Washington to join the fast on Friday, Dec. 6 and Saturday, Dec. 7. Joining Sister Rose Marie was Sister Joan Serda, RSM, of Macon, Ga., who is assistant justice director for the Sisters of Mercy – South Central Community, and Sister Diane Guerin, RSM, of Merion, Pa., who is justice coordinator for the Sisters of Mercy – Mid-Atlantic Community.
“Our purpose is to push for immigration reform,” Sister Rose Marie said. “We’re hoping to get more people who will support immigration reform and work for it.”
“We’re closer than we’ve ever been in Congress. The Senate passed a good bill, and there is still a possibility it can happen in the House of Representatives. Increasingly, Americans support immigration reform, even if they don’t agree on all the details.”
The group who fasted on Capitol Hill is made up of people of many faiths as well as labor leaders. They’ve pitched tents to draw the attention of decision-makers in the nation’s capital.
For Sister Rose Marie, advocacy for fair treatment of immigrants is more than just the role she fills for the Sisters of Mercy—it’s personal. She is the former director of ethics for Laredo Medical Center in Laredo, Texas, a town on the U.S.-Mexico border where she frequently worked with immigrant families, many of which had been separated by immigration issues. In her own family, her brother-in-law emigrated from El Salvador.
“Fortunately, he found a legal way to remain here. He is a permanent legal resident with a green card and is studying for his citizenship exam.” But she realizes others haven’t been as fortunate, and she, along with Sister Joan and Sister Diane and other Sisters of Mercy are hoping this is the year that changes.
Please click here (MP3) to listen to an interview with Sister Rose Marie on Charlotte, North Carolina, radio station WBT.