New resources for immigrant-to-immigrant ministry

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Sunday, April 8, 2012

Immigrants who minister to other immigrants now have a new set of tools to form themselves in Catholic social justice as they do their work.

The Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Immigrant Affairs and Immigration Education has released a new formational curriculum for participants in its “Pastoral Migratoria,” or immigrant-to-immigrant ministry.

“Pastoral Migratoria starts with formation, it starts with evangelization, it starts with our faith, it starts with our call to conversion,” said Elena Segura, director.

The seven booklets — one each for six sessions of formation and reflection and another collection of prayers — are scripturally based and invite participants to observe, judge and act, Segura said.

The sessions include the call to Pastoral Migratoria; the reality of immigrants’ lives; the dignity of the human person; the rights and responsibilities of children of God and residents of communities; the dignity of work; solidarity and the building of the kingdom of God.

The curriculum was blessed by Bishops John Manz and Alberto Rojas in front of more than 100 Hispanic lay leaders at the Cardinal Meyer Center on March 15. Since then, the office has begun working through the curriculum with Pastoral Migratoria leaders at several parishes.

The resources are the culmination of two and a half years of work on the part of the office in collaboration with the National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry, the Hispanic Ministry Resource Center of Claretian Publications and a team of theologians including Holy Cross Father Daniel Groody of the University of Notre Dame, Dominican Sister Barbara Reid at Catholic Theological Union and Alicia Marill at Barry University.

The Claretians are translating the curriculum into English, for people working to educate members of predominantly non-immigrant parishes about immigration and the church’s teaching about it.

The archdiocese started Pastoral Migratoria in 2009, and it is now active in more than 40 Hispanic parishes. More than 200 lay leaders participate. It expanded to include six Polish parishes with 45 active leaders in 2011.

“It seems we started backwards because we didn’t have a complete, systematic way of connecting life with faith,” Segura said. The Pastoral Migratoria leaders have always been taught to reflect on the connections between their lives and the lives of other immigrants and their faith.

Each leader receives a Bible when he or she is formally commissioned.

“We didn’t know how many of them were really using their Bibles,” Segura said. “Now, with this, they can look up the Scripture passages and really reflect on it.”