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Vigil held in Sister Nora’s honor

EAST MANATEE -- Although she wasn’t there physically, it was impossible Saturday to miss the spirit of Sister Nora Brick at the eighth annual National Immigration Renewal and Action.

The vigil, held at Our Lady of the Angels Memorial Garden, is intended to draw attention to immigration issues, something close to the heart of Sister Nora Brick.

This year’s event was extra special, said Luz Corcuera, program director of Healthy Start of Manatee County and a friend of the sister.

“We did have Sister Nora in spirit,” she said.

Sister Nora worked closely with migrant workers in Manatee through various charities and organizations.

Earlier this month, the Franciscan nun was attacked at her home. The primary suspect, Eliseo Ortiz, remains at-large. Sister Nora will be taken to New Jersey, where she will finish healing and stay permanently with her order.

“Sister would have loved to be there and I think she is very proud of all of us,” said Corcuera, who is also a member of the social justice committee at the church. “We owe it to her to continue her work. I know she is very proud.”

About 150 people attended the interfaith event. They sat on lounge chairs in the heat and sipped on cold water as they listened to people from all walks of life share stories and singing songs.

The Dream Act and other hot topic issues involving immigration were also brought up as presenters made speeches about equality and human dignity.

Jessica Sanchez, of Students Working for Equal Rights, told her story of fighting for the bill and her heartbreak when a member of her church said he was happy it didn’t pass.

“I couldn’t help but cry. It hurts when you hear your people say those words,” she said.

Her message and the ones of others resonated with those who attended.

“I believe in what they’ve been saying. We are all citizens of the world,” said El Parent, 73, of Sarasota.

As the microphone got passed around many presenters mentioned the sister’s name and her history as an Irish immigrant.

“Sister Nora is a shining example of the presence of God on earth. She was not born in the United States but look at the fantastic contributions she has made to our community and our country,” said Chris Treston, a member of Our Lady of the Angels. “How many other people like Sister Nora are there in the undocumented community that we will not welcome into our country?”