At the 2019 General Assembly of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Baltimore, the outgoing chair of the Committee on Migration (and Catholic Bishop of Austin), Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, concluded his report with "good practices for helping immigrants." Topping the list was the IAF parish identification strategy.
Parish identification emerged as a strategy in Dallas after passage of Texas Senate Bill 4, which allows law enforcement officers to ask residents about their immigration status. With no access to state drivers licenses, undocumented immigrants were concerned that otherwise benign traffic stops could result in deportation. Police departments were worried their officers would not be trusted in immigrant communities. As a way to address both concerns, 1,500 Dallas Area Interfaith leaders and their Bishops negotiated acceptance of parish ID cards with five North Texas police departments.
The parish ID strategy soon spread to Baltimore in collaboration with IAF sister affiliate Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) and, most recently, to the Diocese of Brownsville (along the US-Mexico border) in partnership with Valley Interfaith, Catholic Charities and the police departments of Brownsville, McAllen and Edinburg.
Bishop Vasquez recognized the Catholic (Arch)dioceses of Baltimore, Dallas and Brownsville for "fostering a sense of belonging & security." So far in Dallas, 12,000 identification cards have been issued through DAI member congregations, fortifying family connections to congregations and strengthening parish collections in the process.
Remarks by Bishop Jose S. Vásquez, US Conference of Catholic Bishops General Assembly Remarks
How Parish IDs Can Help Foster Communities of Welcome, Justice for Immigrants [Notes]
How Parish IDs Can Help Foster Communities of Welcome, Justice for Immigrants [Webinar]
At a US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) General Assembly reception in Baltimore, Pima County Interfaith (PCI) organizer Ana Chavarin was awarded the Cardinal Joseph Bernadin New Leadership Award. Each year, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) honors individuals, like Ana, who "demonstrate leadership in fighting poverty and injustice in the United States through community-based solutions."
Having worked with PCI for the past four years, Ana was originally nominated by the Diocese of Tucson’s Office of Human Life & Dignity. Said Sr. Leonette Kochan, the department's former director: “Ana's Catholic faith motivates and inspires her role as a parent, faith community member, and leader in the wide range of social outreach initiatives in which she participates. Her courageous determination and the support of others found expression in her life of service to others, especially in programs that empower the lives of others. As a person who faces economic struggles as a single parent of four children, Ana also leads by example in balancing family life with work, while pursuing a college degree.”
In 2018 she won a US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) award for Hispanic Catholic Leaders and was also recognized by the Arizona Daily Star for her community achievements (see links further below).
[In photo, Ana Chavarin prepares Spanish-speaking parish ministers for leadership. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Alliance for the Common Good.]
Once Cheated, Community Leader Now Helps Others Speak with United Voice, Catholic News Service [pdf]
Neto's Tucson: Ana Chavarin is a Single Mom, an Immigrant and a Success, Arizona Daily Star [pdf]
North Louisiana, Central Louisiana and Delta Interfaith Partner with Dioceses of Alexandria and Shreveport for 'Welcoming the Stranger' Training
116 leaders, mostly from the Catholic Dioceses of Shreveport and Alexandria, participated in CCHD- and Organizers Institute- sponsored leadership training in Woodworth, Louisiana. Leaders representing 42 congregations from 25 cities or towns learned how to put their faith in action through institutional organizing practices designed to strengthen their parishes and fortify their communities. The sessions covered themes including the eucharist and what it means to be the body of the Christ, baptism and the mission of the church and building a team to do the work of the Church.
In collaboration with Catholic Bishop Daniel Flores, 500 Valley Interfaith leaders packed a hall in Las Milpas to publicly launch a parish ID strategy for the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
Developed in partnership with the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley and three law enforcement agencies, new parish-issued identification cards will show a photo of the cardholder, name, date of birth, address and how long the cardholder has been a member of their parish.
Bishop Flores emphasized: “The ID means something more than simply its implication that you have an identification...it means something much deeper: ‘I belong to a parish, and so in this community, I am not living in the shadows.’”
On behalf of Catholic Charities, Sr. Norma Pimentel presented a $10,000 check to pay for printers for new ID cards.
Representatives from the police departments of Pharr, McAllen and Edinburg participated in the assembly, pledging to accept these cards as a form of valid identification in the event anyone needs to identify themselves to the police -- whether on a traffic stop or when filing a report.
“Too much of the focus is on the national and state conversation regarding immigration,” said Franciscan Father Tom Luczak, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Edinburg. “This is a local strategy that gives my own parishioners the dignity of being able to identify themselves to a police officer. “This will positively affect them."
[Photo Credit: photo above by Francisco Jimenez, The Monitor; photo at right by Paul Binz, The Valley Catholic]
IDs Give Parishioners Way to Say, 'I Belong,' Regardless of Legal Status, National Catholic Reporter
Diocese, Valley Interfaith Team Up to Offer a New Kind of ID, The Valley Catholic
Valley Interfaith Clarifies Parish ID Strategy, The Monitor
Valley Interfaith to Launch Local Parish ID Strategy, The Monitor [pdf]
Ever since participating in a DAI leadership training two years ago, Lily Rodriguez (photo top right) of St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church in Dallas has been very motivated to bring its teachings to life, actualizing them by helping her community.
The training sought to prepare parish leaders to support the civic development of their parish communities, particularly those from immigrant backgrounds.
That's how the "Sunshine Committee" in which Rodriguez participates, along with 24 other volunteers, came to be. Members of the committee disseminate flyers, make calls, organize, sign up and help in community-oriented activities. The most popular workshops are those focusing on US citizenship and parish IDs -- created and implemented by the Catholic Diocese of Dallas and DAI for more than one year....
Comité Parroquial es Semilla de Cambio Cívico, Revista Católica de Dallas
Albuquerque Interfaith leaders reflected together on the theological foundations underpinning their spring and summer efforts in support of Central American asylum seekers at an event hosted by Monte Vista Christian Church. Seven faith leaders shared what from their faith traditions spurred them into action and challenged participants to continue to engage with those different from themselves.
104 Spanish-speaking trainees from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa convened for multi-day leadership development co-sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), Organizers Institute, and VOICE-OKC. Parishioners came from 13 Catholic congregations to learn about how baptism connects to the mission of the church, how to identify new leaders and how parishes can take action to address pressures harming families.
With Blessing from the Archbishop, 'Recognizing the Stranger' Prepares 173 for Parish Leadership in San Antonio
With the blessing of Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller and support from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), Mission and Ministry, Inc. (MMI), the Organizers Institute of the West/Southwest IAF, and COPS/Metro, Spanish-language 'Recognizing the Stranger' training prepared 173 for parish leadership in San Antonio and surrounding areas.
Parish leaders participated in leadership development workshops and engaged with scripture and their religious traditions as they reflected on their roles in public life.
80 Trainees in Omaha are Prepared for Parish Leadership through 'Recognizing the Stranger' Initiative
With the support of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), Organizers' Institute of the West/Southwest IAF, and Omaha Together One Community (OTOC), 80 Omaha and Western Iowa parish leaders participated in leadership development training, made available in Spanish through the 'Recognizing the Stranger' initiative.
The Omaha Archdiocesan Director of Latino Ministry, Deacon Gregorio Elizalde, helped organize the training. Fr. Scott Hastings, Vicar for Clergy for the Archdiocese, blessed the effort and attended some sessions.
Spanish Leadership Formation (including list of participating institutions), OTOC
With support from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the Organizers Institute of the West/Southwest IAF, and One LA, Spanish-language training reached 54 parish leaders from six Catholic institutions in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles County.
Parish leaders participated in leadership development workshops and engaged with scripture and their religious traditions as they reflected on their roles in public life. This is the first of multiple local trainings planned for the duration of the coming year.