Ministry result

The institute focuses on immigration department best practices and reasons for hope

CHICAGO — The main message of the two-day National Pastoral Institute Migratoria held recently at the Catholic Theological Union of Chicago was: “Hope is always present in the heart,” according to Carmen Aguinaco.

She made the remarks during her July 30 presentation at the institute for Catholics working with immigrants in the country’s dioceses. Aguinaco is a former staff member of the Secretariat for Cultural Diversity in the Church of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.


Attendees of the institute’s virtual and in-person meeting on July 29-30 were there to learn best practices in ministry and focus on hope for the future.

Pastoral Migratoria, a program of the Immigration Ministry of the Archdiocese of Chicago, serves as a national model for immigrant leadership ministry and promotes the gospel imperative to welcome the stranger and work for the common good of all. .

Participants who joined virtually came from dioceses that currently have a Migratoria pastoral ministry, including Baltimore; Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri; New York; and Stockton, California.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of San Bernardino, California, which plan to develop migration pastoral ministries, participated in person, as well as parishes in Chicago.

Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich and Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington, who is chairman of the USCCB Migration Committee, shared video messages of support with attendees.

The National Institute for Migration Pastoral held its first gathering in 2018 and went virtual during the pandemic. This year, organizers changed the original five-day format where diocesan leaders visited parishes that have Migratoria pastoral ministries to the hybrid virtual and in-person meeting.

Elena Segura, senior national coordinator for immigration in the Archdiocese of Chicago, said the purpose of the rally was to encourage leaders to be signs of hope and give them reason to hope.

“The pandemic has really affected the ministry in many ways, not physically going to church, but they have always accompanied immigrants to parishes in virtually different ways,” she said. “Now we want to reinvigorate the ministries at the parish level. Our main goal is also hope.

It’s important to focus on hope, especially since the fight for immigration reform in the United States has been going on for 17 years, she said.

“We need to renew, to connect, to understand this revolutionary hope, this active hope, the hope that comes from the scriptures and that is what we have done here,” she said.

On the evening of July 29, Jesuit Father Fr. Conrado Zepeda who works in Chiapas, Mexico, gave a live presentation on the global reality of immigration and migration in the world, not just in Mexico and the United States.

“It was a very panoramic view of what is happening outside the Mexico-US border and the caravans – what is also happening in Europe, in Africa and what is happening with the refugee situation (from Ukraine) and war,” said Juan Pablo. Padilla, coordinator of Pastoral Juvenil in the Archdiocese of Chicago and a volunteer with the Pastoral Migratoria program in his parish, St. Mary Magdalene in Blue Island.

In another presentation, attendees heard about a 15-year study on the mental health of migrant women in Mexico and Illinois that was published in March.

Deacon Jose Cisneros, of St. Pius X-St. Leonard Parish in Berwyn, Illinois, has been involved in migration ministry in his parish for many years.

“I am an immigrant myself and have worked here for many years without papers and it has been a great experience for me,” Cisneros, who attended the conference, told Chicago Catholic, the archdiocesan newspaper.

Julia O’Reilly Castillo has also volunteered in immigrant ministry for many years and has heard many stories of immigrants who have suffered coming to this country. Her husband is an immigrant and was also undocumented for many years.

“I realized this is an issue that we Catholics need to get involved in and we need to walk with people,” she said. “It’s the companion piece to Pastoral Migratoria.”

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Duriga is editor of Chicago Catholic, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago.