Pastoral Migratoria Institute continues to train other dioceses in immigrant ministry

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Pastoral Migratoria Institute continues to train other dioceses in immigrant ministry

National Pastoral Migratoria Institute hosts representatives from more than 20 U.S. dioceses on July 30, 2022 at Catholic Theological Union, 5416 S. Cornell Ave. The institute offered hybrid workshops for the development and implementation of the immigrant-led Pastoral Migratoria ministries in parish communities around the country. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Marco Lopez, director of the Oscar Romero Scholars Program at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, makes an announcement to participants. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Jesuit Father Conrad Zepeda, who works with migrants in México, speaks during the conference. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Carmen Estrada from Mision San Juan Diego in Des Plaines, Gloria Perez, Amelia Perez and Vidal de Haymes from Loyola University Chicago share experiences during a break. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Participants break into small group discussions. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Vidal de Haymes teaches courses in the areas of social welfare policy and migration studies at Loyola University Chicago. She was a presenter at the conference. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Luis Enrique Vargas Almazan from Waukegan visits with one of the presenters Graciela Polanco-Hernandez, faculty in Ciudad de Mexico. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Participants break into small group discussions. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Paulo Mendoza from Waukegan shares the thoughts his group discussed. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Julie O'Reilly Castillo, Mission and Service coordinator at St. Pius X-St. Leonard Parish in Berwyn listens during a group discussion. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Mauro Pineda, Immigration Ministry - Formation/Collaboration coordinator at Archdiocese of Chicago, takes notes during the conference. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Elena Segura, director of Office of Immigrant Affairs at the Archdiocese of Chicago, talks to a participant. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Carmen Estrada from Mision San Juan Diego in Des Plaines smiles during a break. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Catholics working with immigrants in dioceses around the country gathered for a two-day virtual and in-person meeting of the National Pastoral Migratoria Institute at Catholic Theological Union on July 29-30 to learn about best practices in ministry and to focus on hope for the future.

Pastoral Migratoria, a program of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Immigration Ministry, serves as a national model for immigrant leadership ministry and promotes the Gospel imperative to welcome the stranger and work for the common good of all.

Participants joined virtually from dioceses that currently have a Pastoral Migratoria ministry, including Baltimore; Kansas City-Saint Joseph, Missouri; New York; and Stockton, California. The dioceses of Los Angeles and San Bernardino, California, which plan to develop Pastoral Migratoria ministries, also participated in person, along with parishes from Chicago.

Cardinal Cupich and Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, shared video messages of support with participants.

The National Pastoral Migratoria Institute held its first gathering in 2018 and went virtual during the pandemic. This year, organizers changed the original format from five days in which dioceses visited parishes in the archdiocese that have Pastoral Migratoria ministries to a hybrid two-day virtual and in-person meeting. 

Elena Segura, senior national coordinator for immigration at the Archdiocese of Chicago, said the goal of the gathering was to encourage the leaders to be signs of hope, and to give them reason for hope. 

“The pandemic really affected in so many ways the ministry, not going to church physically, but they’ve been still accompanying immigrants in the parishes virtually in different ways,” she said. “Now we want to reenergize the ministries on a parish level. Also our main focus is hope.”

It is important to focus on hope, especially since the fight for immigration reform in the United States has been going on for 17 years, she said.

“We need to renew, to connect, to understand that revolutionary hope, that active hope, the hope that is from the Scripture and that’s what we’ve done here,” she said.

On the evening of July 29, Jesuit Father P. Conrado Zepeda who works in Chiapas, Mexico, offered a livestream presentation about the global reality of immigration and migration around the world, not just Mexico and the United States.

“It was a very panoramic view of what’s going on outside of the Mexico-U.S. border and the caravans — what’s also happening in Europe, Africa and what’s going on with the situation of refugees [from Ukraine] and the war,” said Juan Pablo Padilla, coordinator for Pastoral Juvenil in the archdiocese and a volunteer with Pastoral Migratoria program in his parish, St. Mary Magdalene in Blue Island. “Very insightful. We learned a lot from it.”

On the morning of July 30, Carmen Aguinaco, who previously worked at the Office of Cultural Diversity of the USCCB, spoke about the overarching message of the gathering: “Hope is always present in the heart.”

In another presentation, participants heard about a 15-year study of the mental health of migrant women in both Mexico and Illinois that was published in March. They also discussed best practices in immigrant ministry.

Deacon Jose Cisneros, from St. Pius X-St. Leonard Parish in Berwyn, has been involved in Pastoral Migratoria at his parish for many years.

“I myself am an immigrant and I worked for many years here without any papers and that was a big experience for me,” said Cisneros, who attended the conference.

Julia O’Reilly Castillo has also volunteered in immigrant ministry for many years and has heard many stories of immigrants who have suffered coming to this country. Her husband is an immigrant and was also undocumented for many years.

“I came to realize that this is an issue that we as Catholics need to be involved with and we need to walk with the people,” she said. “That’s the accompaniment piece of Pastoral Migratoria.”


  • immigration ministry

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