As Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary of the U.S.-Ontario Province, a community of over 430 Catholic women religious, we were astounded to learn that refugees were being turned back and refused entry to the U.S., even though they had valid visas from our country. We join with other concerned citizens and members of many faiths in opposition to this action, since it is contrary to the values of our nation, our faith and our religious congregation.
The earliest members of our community – following Jesus’ message “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” – rescued Irish immigrant orphans abandoned at ports along the St. Lawrence River and housed them in their schools. Some Sisters in our congregation today in Canada and the U.S. sponsor or operate temporary homes, especially for women and families who are victims of economic or religious oppression, or refugees from war-torn countries throughout the world. Sisters in every large city where we are located are collaborating with others in local programs to assist refugees and immigrants as they become acclimated to a new home, a new country. Some of our Sisters are refugees themselves; most of our members are children of immigrants. We reverence the Muslim women, their families and their stories when they join with us at various holidays.
Pope Francis has reminded us recently of the connection between the migration crisis and human trafficking. This is an added concern for us, since anti-trafficking education and action have been a significant aspect of our ministry for the past 10 years. At our 2016 General Chapter, we recommitted ourselves “to partner with immigrants, refugees and indigenous people to resist racism, advocate for human rights and create welcoming communities.”
We pray for the safety of this country and invite persons of all faiths, people committed to justice, to join with us in prayer and action for a just and reasonable resolution to this unacceptable refusal to accept and welcome these immigrants displaced from their home countries by such violent and unjust oppression. They, too, have a right to safety and care.