BVMs Join in Welcoming Refugees

The Sisters of Charity, BVM are one of 10 communities of Midwest Catholic Sisters who are calling on citizens, President Barack Obama, and federal, state and local politicians to work together to welcome refugees.

The sisters have launched a public awareness campaign to remind potential candidates and voters to remember this critical issue when they head to the polls in November.

Billboards urging communities to welcome refugees have been placed in the Quad Cities, Des Moines, Dubuque and Clinton, Iowa; Kieler and Madison, Wis.; and Omaha, Neb. Prayer services near some of the billboard sites have been scheduled and postcards are available to be sent to federal, state and local government officials nationwide.

In Dubuque, BVMs gathered with other area sisters on June 20 at Dubuque Auto Plaza, site of one of the billboards, for a prayer service. The event was organized by Mira Mosle, BVM, who spoke to local KCRG news. See the interview at: http://bit.ly/28Mjx3L

Pictures from the Dubuque prayer service and other related events can be viewed at: https://www.facebook.com/catholicsisters/

The billboards feature the message based on the words of Jesus and taken from the Gospel of Matthew: “I was a stranger a refugee and you welcomed me.” They will remain posted through June and July. The postcards read: “As a person of faith, I am writing to ask you to speak out against fear-mongering and inflammatory rhetoric about refugees. I oppose any legislation that would block the resettlement of refugees of any nationality or religion in the United States of America.”

BVMs have worked with refugees for many years as part of their ministry and continue to do so today whenever possible. They also offer financial assistance for refugees through their congregational ministry grants, providing education, shelter and settlement support where needed.

St. Regina Wagner, BVM recalls the year 1975, when Vietnamese families arrived at St. Mary Parish in Lincoln, Neb. “This began a whole new ministry for me . . . as mentor, help and support for families in finding doctors, adequate and safe places to live, transporting them to English classes, finding fair and suitable jobs, advising them with money matters and countless other services.”

Diane Rapozo, BVM (Malia) says, “When the Hmong people arrived in Wausau, Wis., from Vietnam [in the 1980s], they chose St. Anne Parish for their community . . . being their representative was a very rich experience for me.”

Mary Martens, BVM (Loras) recently tutored a local college student living at Presentation Lantern Center in Dubuque, whose family emigrated from Indonesia. Working with the student on writing and speech assignments, Mary says, “She’s bright and actually taught herself English at age 12; she’s determined and disciplined.”

Mary McCauley, BVM (Mercedie), who was pastoral minister at the time of the infamous workplace immigration raid in Postville, Iowa, shares, “Currently my direct contact with refugees is limited; however my advocacy for their rights and concern for their dignity and freedom is very much alive!”

The Sisters of Charity, BVM and the Midwest Catholic Sisters invite you to join them in becoming refugee welcoming communities! To download postcards to send to your political representatives, go to: http://bit.ly/1TJJzkA

The following congregations of Catholic Sisters are coordinating this public awareness campaign: the Dominican Sisters, Sinsinawa, Wis.; Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sisters of the Presentation, Sisters of St. Francis and Sisters of the Visitation, all in Dubuque; Congregation of the Humility of Mary, Davenport, Iowa; Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa; Sisters of St. Benedict, Rock Island, Ill.; Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, La Crosse, Wis.; and Sisters of Mercy, West Midwest Community, Omaha, Neb. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/catholicsisters.