More than 50 clergy, diocesan staff and lay leaders attended the workshop hosted by the Archdiocese on June 12, 2018 at the Chancery. We explored how the escalation of enforcement activities in our communities has greatly increased levels of fear, anxiety and trauma among immigrants worried that their families will be torn apart; what Catholic Social Teaching has to say about immigration; and how the Catholic Community has been responding at both the national and local level to stand in solidarity with our immigrant families in these challenging times.
One of the primary strategies we discussed was an Accompaniment Program that has been developed in several dioceses. An Accompaniment Program will match parish-based volunteer teams who have received training with undocumented immigrants who ask to have a small group accompany them to meet with ICE or go to court. No special expertise is required, just a willingness to provide moral support and maybe a ride to one of our undocumented brothers or sisters as they navigate our immigration enforcement system. But that moral support, along with the witness provided by those who accompany, can help make a difference in the outcomes of these encounters.
We invite you to come out for a follow-up training, ‘Building your Accompaniment Team,' which will be held on Wednesday evening, July 18 at 7:00 pm in St. Mary’s Church (17 Monsignor Owens Place) in Nutley. We are asking each interested parish to send a team of 3-7 (clergy, staff, and parishioners) to participate in this important training.