by Jill Ragar Esfeld
Our Lady of Guadalupe, named for a 16th-century apparition near Mexico City, was given the title “Patroness of the Americas” by Pope St. John Paul II.
The basilica built on the site of her appearance is the most visited Catholic pilgrimage site in the world.
It has an estimated 20 million visitors annually.
I was recently invited to the home of Anabella Wasserman, assistant to Hispanic ministry for our archdiocese, to pray a rosary.
Anabella was hosting a traveling statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
While I sat in front of this beautiful image of the Virgin Mary and prayed with fellow Catholics, I couldn’t help but think about the plight of Hispanic immigrants in our archdiocese.
Many of our Catholic brothers and sisters live in fear of our government’s prevailing resolution to deport immigrants without legal status.
They are particularly afraid of parents being separated from their American-born children.
It is a heartbreaking fact that attendance at Spanish Masses has dropped recently because of these fears.
Even though Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a “sensitive location” policy to abstain from enforcement at churches, undocumented immigrants, hearing rumors they might be detained by ICE, choose not to go to Mass.
They stay home alone at a time when they most need the support and fellowship of their faith community, and the strength of the Eucharist.
When it comes to immigration, the church balances the dignity of every individual and the right of the state to enact just laws.
With respect for the law, the church supports immigrants and asks for immigration reform that is just, but also compassionate.
On the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe last December, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.
In his homily, he told the audience that Mary teaches us to look at our brothers and sisters through her eyes — full of love and mercy.
“Where there is the Mother, brothers may quarrel but a sense of unity will always prevail,” he said.
May is Mary’s month. What better time to ask for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the plight of our immigrant neighbors?
Justice and compassion in immigration reform is something we can all pray for as brothers and sisters in love with our universal mother, Mary.