Church to hold vigil for migrants

MANATEE — When Sylvia Dain took a trip to Mexico about nine years ago, she couldn’t help but think that time had changed very little.

Families had few material possessions in their homes, chickens ran in the yards and men handled plows pulled by mules or horses.

Dain, whose parents left Mexico and Spain to seek opportunity in America, has compassion for immigrants living in the area who want a better life.

“I have just not forgotten that’s where most of us came from and we need to be respectful that they are human beings that are just trying to make a better life for their children,” she said.

Her church, Our Lady of the Angels, is expected to host a prayer vigil today to call for protection of immigrant families under the leadership of newly elected President Obama and members of Congress to bring humane immigration reform.

A part of a nationwide movement, the prayer vigil seeks to highlight the faith community’s work to bring compassion into public discussion on immigration. The event will feature prayer, songs and a time for people to share.

“It’s showing support to restore dignity and respect for all families and communities,” said Barbara Mills, co-chairwoman of the Social Justice Committee.

Sponsored by Social Justice Committee at Our Lady of Angels, the event aligns with the themes of the Catholic social teaching, Mills said.

“We believe that every person is precious and that people are more important than things. People have the right to life and dignity and respect,” she said.

There is much controversy that surrounds the debate on immigration, but it all boils down to the fact that people are human beings, Mills said. Not always are people who migrate to the United States treated fairly.

“Our faith tradition tells us to welcome our brothers and sisters with love and compassion and very often, they are not welcomed with love and compassion,” she said.

Gerardo Ramirez, chairman of the Latino Community Network, also plans to attend the event Saturday. He supports the prayer vigil because he believes immigration reform is needed to make sure that immigrants have a better life in America.

“It calls for a lot of action and we need to do something about it. The immigrants and the farm workers are overworked and underpaid,” he said.

“They deserved to be treated like human beings and that’s why we need to reform immigration law.”

Jessica Klipa, Herald staff reporter, can be reached at 708-7906.

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