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The Catholic New World
Praying for justice for immigrants

Michelle Martin

It was a cold day with a biting wind when about 30 people gathered on Federal Plaza to raise a cross and pray the rosary for immigrants.

The vigil, sponsored by Priests for Justice for Immigrants, was the first of the six Lenten Wednesday gatherings at which members of the faithful joined the priests in praying for the needs of immigrants and for comprehensive immigration reform.

The group held similar sessions last year, as momentum built for a reform bill to be passed by Congress. But progress stalled, and the only immigration legislation that was signed into law last year called for the construction of a barrier along more than 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

The vigil started as participants were invited to pound nails into the cross that was set up in front of the Calder sculpture.

Then the rosary was prayed, with a special intention for the plight of children who are either separated or fear being separated from their parents by U.S. immigration law. Minor children of non-citizen legal residents can wait up to eight years for a visa to enter the country, and U.S.-born children of immigrants who are citizens live in fear of their parents being deported.

Decades of the Glorious Mysteries were prayed partially in Polish, Italian, Tagalog (spoken in the Philippines) and Swahili, with the second half of each prayer in English.

Catholics from all over the archdiocese are invited to participate in the weekly rosaries, bringing nails from their parishes to demonstrate solidarity.

"This is a time to commit ourselves to Christ in the person of the suffering immigrant," said Dominican Father Brendan Curran of St. Pius V Parish in Pilsen.

A group of 500 Hispanic women calling themselves Women Praying for Immigration reform have done just that, committing to fasting and prayer until immigration reform passes. Members of the group joined the Priests for Justice for Immigrants at the weekly rosary March 7.

The rosaries will continue at noon every Wednesday through April 4 at Federal Plaza, Dearborn and Adams streets.

Those who cannot travel downtown can join the Priests for Justice for Immigrants in their weekly Wednesday fasts and say the rosary on their own at noon on Wednesdays.


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