Home » Features » Loretto stands up for peace… Loretto marches for dignity

Loretto stands up for peace… Loretto marches for dignity

Posted on April 1, 2024, by Loretto Community

By Loretto Communications staff

Loretto members and friends participate in a prayer service in Louisville for peace and justice in Gaza.
Photo by Donna Mattingly

Loretto Community members have taken part in recent activities promoting peace and justice in Gaza.

Susan Classen and JoAnn Gates represented Loretto at a Mennonite-led peace action in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 16. About 200 people gathered for a prayer service outside the Cannon House Federal Building in support of 135 people engaging in civil disobedience inside.

In February, the Motherhouse Community and friends organized a public prayer service outside of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office. The service, on Feb. 28, was well attended by Loretto members and others. Susan Classen said, “I was inspired by all of the people who came and the realization that we are not alone in our concern for the Palestinians in Gaza. I left feeling emboldened to continue speaking out in collaboration with others who are also committed to being strong, peaceful and prayerful voices.”

In March, the Loretto Community and Peace Committee published a statement in two Kentucky newspapers titled “Loretto grieves the deaths in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.” The statement noted the tens of thousands of deaths, mostly women and children; the destruction of the Gazan homes; the survivors’ starvation. The statement calls on the U.S. government to take concrete measures to stop the suffering, stating that “The sorrow is immeasurable and the issues are intractable. Nonetheless, steps must be taken now. Our Loretto sisters and co-members join in prayer with all people of faith, asking President Biden and all leaders to choose peace and life.”

Loretto members attended a march and vigil for human dignity held in El Paso on March 21 that was sparked by recent actions by the Texas attorney general against Annunciation House, a hospitality center run by Ruben Garcia providing temporary housing, food and other essentials to migrants in El Paso. In addition, the event memorialized 40 people who died in detention in Ciudad Juárez in March 2023.

The Diocese of El Paso and the Hope Border Institute organized this act of community resistance and prayer in order to: “Affirm our welcoming borderland identity; protect our freedom to put faith into action; lift up the rights and dignity of those who migrate; defend our humanitarian workers; and commemorate those dying at the border.” El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz, El Paso Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Celino and faith and community leaders from the region hosted the march and vigil.

The march ended at Sacred Heart Church, where Bishop Seitz spoke of faith, hospitality and transformation. He lamented those who died in the fire in Juarez, who have died trying to cross the Rio Grande River and in the detention center. He paid tribute to those who provide hospitality and restore dignity to the oppressed.

Jackie Diego Medina, left, and Jane German participate in the recent event, “Do not Be Afraid: March and Vigil for Human Dignity” in El Paso.
Photo by Jackie Diego Medina

Mary Margaret Murphy writes:

The energy and commitment within the estimated 1,500 participants was electrifying. The Gospel call to love our neighbor and the example of who our neighbor is, as exemplified by the Good Samaritan, were the focus of several heartfelt reflections. Although the impetus for the event was related to the allegations made by the Texas attorney general against Ruben and Annunciation House, it was also to remember the terrible fire that took place in a Juarez detention center a year ago. Many migrants died needlessly because the detention center did not observe safety codes, and the guards did not unlock the cells.

As we were walking the eight blocks from San Jacinto Plaza to Sacred Heart Church, I could not help but think of it as the way of the cross, which we remember and pray during Holy Week. That night our modern Christ figure was Ruben. The Texas attorney general shouts “crucify him.” He contends Ruben has stash houses, is involved in human smuggling and takes advantage of migrants. We walked and prayed in support of Ruben for his 40 years of welcoming migrants; of providing a safe house for those whose lives are threatened in their countries; of offering a healing place for those seriously injured on their journey to safety in the U.S. In addition Annunciation House is a temporary home for widows from Mexico who are required to spend a month twice annually in the U.S. in order to continue to receive Social Security benefits after their spouses have died.

The vigil at Sacred Heart ended as all extended our hands in gratitude and prayer as Bishop Seitz blessed Ruben.

Ruben Garcia is recognized by El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz, just visible behind Ruben’s left shoulder.
Screenshot from vigil video

Jane German writes:

Helen Santamaria helps carry a Loretto banner.
Screenshot from vigil video

As I looked around at the people gathered in San Jacinto Plaza, during the march, and then outside and within Sacred Heart Church, I saw old and young, politicians and lawyers, people of diverse nationalities and cultures, citizens and migrants, religious and lay people, bishops and ministers, matachines [traditional Spanish dancers in costume] and drummers, students and school leaders … a beautiful tapestry, the body of Christ, all Friends of Mary at the Foot of the Cross.

And when asked who my neighbor is, I hope I can say I am the Good Samaritan who reaches out to help others. For me, my neighbor is anyone who needs food, something to drink, clothing, health care, who is in prison or is a stranger I need to welcome. My neighbor is anyone with or without “proper” documentation/papers whom I can help.

I left filled with sorrow, joy and hope for the sufferings and gratefulness of the migrants. The commitment of those gathered to work for justice and act for peace brought hope.

From left, Kathleen Corbett, Jackie Diego Medina, Jane German, Ophelia Becera (friend of Loretto) and Annie Rosenkranz.
Photo courtesy of Annie Rosenkranz

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