Pilgrimage helps raise awareness of immigration reform

| Dianne Towalski | November 7, 2013 | 0 Comments
Before the start of the pilgrimage, Mary Funtes prays with the group outside St. Joseph the Worker in Maple Grove. Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit

Before the start of the pilgrimage, Mary Funtes prays with the group outside St. Joseph the Worker in Maple Grove. Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit

More than 50 pilgrims walked from St. Joseph the Worker in Maple Grove to St. Joseph in New Hope Nov. 3 as part of a Pilgrimage for Citizenship.

The six-day ecumenical event, which concludes Nov. 8, seeks to raise awareness of the need for comprehensive federal immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship.

The tightly knit group of walkers made their way down Hemlock Lane in Maple Grove on the way to St. Joseph in New Hope, 6.5 miles away. Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit

The tightly knit group of walkers made their way down Hemlock Lane in Maple Grove on the way to St. Joseph in New Hope, 6.5 miles away. Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit

Providing a path to citizenship is one of the key principles of immigration reform important to the U.S. bishops. Others include keeping families together and addressing the root causes of poverty.

The event is sponsored by ISAIAH, a non-profit coalition of more than 100 congregations from various faith traditions in Minnesota, and Catholic Charities’ Office for Social Justice.

“This initiative gives us a voice so that representatives and politicians can know our story and know that something needs to be done,” said Rosaura, an immigrant from Mexico who spoke through an interpreter.

She and her husband Heriberto came to Minnesota with documents seven years ago looking for a better life, after losing their jobs, their home and their savings.

Their immigration status keeps them separated from the children and grandchildren they left behind. If they leave the U.S., they won’t be allowed to return.

“When you tell your story, you change how people think about you,” said Mary Funtes, a member of Guardian Angels in Chaska. “It’s not only your face, it’s your name, what you want, how you feel. The stories change everything.”

Funtes’ mother is dying of cancer in Mexico, but she is not able to return to take care of her because she also is helping her daughter attend college by taking care of her two children. Going to Mexico to see her mother would mean she couldn’t return to the U.S., and her daughter couldn’t continue with school.

“This is not just my story; a lot of people are in the same situation,” Funtes said.

The walk continues, ending at a different church each evening through Nov. 8. More people will share their stories at each stop.

Funtes is confident that the event will capture the attention of local lawmakers.

“When we work together and we work hard, things happen,” she said.

Tags: , , ,

Category: Featured, Local News