The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) hosted a gathering on organizing parish communities with large immigrant populations for leadership, service and justice. The event featured Elena Segura, who directs the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Immigrant Affairs and Immigration Education, and runs an innovative program called Pastoral Migratoria (PM). PM develops immigrant leaders, who identify their needs and priorities, then seek solutions to the community’s pressing concerns through unique initiatives and by organizing the immigrant community for service and justice.
Ms. Segura characterizes Pastoral Migratoria as an “immigrant-to-immigrant ministry…born from the desire of immigrants to assist one another in their plight, to live their baptismal call and be agents of a broader evangelization to newcomers and natives.” To Segura, the program seeks to live out Catholic teaching on “human dignity, basic rights, family unity, and solidarity.” The ministry was established in 2008 through a broad consultative process with Catholic universities, charities, schools, pastors, and others.
To date, the program has trained over 200 lay leaders, been implemented in 40 Hispanic and 10 Polish parishes, and is actively supported by over 100 non-immigrant parishes. In the past nine years Pastoral Migratoria leaders has achieved many successes, including leading parish programs on domestic violence, labor rights, and foreclosure. Immigrant leaders work closely with consulate services, combat notary fraud, and advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. PM leaders have also accompanied and connected over 500 separated families in crisis, due to deportations, to needed services, utilizing the resources of Catholic Charities, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) and other Church-sponsored agencies. Priests, religious and PM leaders hold weekly vigils at Chicago area detention facilities to support those being deported and their families. The program offers an important model on how to make Catholic institutions responsive and accountable to immigrant communities.
Pastoral Migratoria’s guide book, entitled Manual De Pastoral Migratoria: Escuchar, Aprender, Proclamar is available in Spanish at http://issuu.com/
Center for Migration Studies
Director, Office for Immigrant Affairs and Immigration Education
Archdiocese of Chicago
Rev. Eric Cruz
Catholic Charities of the Bronx
Director of Legal Services
Catholic Migration Services