October 24, 2013
All Saints Parish in Fort Worth hosted a bilingual prayer service Sunday, Sept. 8, to pray that a comprehensive immigration reform bill can be passed in the U.S. Congress so that millions of undocumented immigrants, including tens of thousands in the Diocese of Fort Worth, can come out of the shadows and live a full life in the community.
The prayer vigil was conducted in conjunction with the call by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to focus Masses of the weekend of Sept. 7-8 on the need for humane reform that would include a path to citizenship.
Bishops also urged action in congressional districts where opposition to reform has been the most strident, calling on constituents to appeal to Republican House Speaker John Boehner and 59 other Catholic Republican members of the House of Representatives.
All Saints pastor Father Stephen Jasso, TOR, led those assembled at his church in prayer at the event, which doubled as an information session.
Douglas Interiano, executive director of Proyecto Inmigrante, addressed those assembled and advised them on how undocumented immigrants can prepare for reform. The Very Rev. Father Armando Trujillo Cano, vicar general of the Third Order of St. Francis, attended from Rome.
The most pressing issue at this time is time, Fr. Jasso said.
“There are other crises in the nation,” Fr. Jasso said, “that could take up time. So that is a concern: That we could run out of time and have to put it off until another time.
“Let us pray that this does not happen.”
Fr. Jasso encouraged his congregation to remain engaged, informed, and hopeful.
Thousands rallied in Washington the second week of October in support of a senate reform bill that awaits action in the House. On Saturday, Oct. 12, more than 300 groups from various organizations in 30 states began nine days of prayer.
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, a high-profile Republican and his party’s nominee for vice president in 2012, supports reform initiatives. Ryan is among 26 members of his party who have been identified as supporting immigration reform in the House.
“What harm are they doing to our country?” Fr. Jasso asked in reference to immigrants. “None. They are a blessing.”
He decried assertions that immigrants increase the crime rate, citing research illustrating that immigrants “tend to commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans.”
Fr. Jasso also referred to studies that suggest immigrants would contribute trillions to the gross domestic product and immediately infuse billions into Social Security and Medicare funds.
Fort Worth City Councilman Sal Espino, an All Saints parishioner, testified to his family’s immigrant experience.
His parents traveled to Fort Worth from Mexico with 5-year-old Espino and his 3-year-old sister in tow.
“They came to Fort Worth like so many before them had come,” said Espino, pointing not just to immigration from the south but from Europe, too, such as the Polish Riscky’s barbeque family, also from Fort Worth’s North Side.
“Why? Because they had that faith that their lives would be better here … all they wanted was an opportunity to work and a good education for their children. Fort Worth has always been a welcoming place.”
Espino said he become a naturalized citizen in 1987, and, as a family, “we have participated in the time honored-traditions of American democracy.”
All Saints Parish in Fort Worth hosted a bilingual prayer service Sunday, Sept. 8, to pray that a comprehensive immigration reform bill can be passed in the U.S. Congress so that millions of undocumented immigrants, including tens of thousands in the Diocese of Fort Worth, can come out of the shadows and live a full life in the community. All Saints pastor Father Stephen Jasso, TOR, led those assembled at his church in prayer at the event, which doubled as an information session.