Members of St. Viator Parish’s newest ministry, its Pastoral Migratoria outreach, joined with thousands of supporters recently in a May day immigration rally. Marching towards Chicago’s Federal Plaza, they lobbied for comprehensive immigration reform.
St. Viator is one of more than 50 parishes in the Chicago Archdiocese to form this immigrant-to-immigrant ministry, having six of its parishioners trained and commissioned.
“It’s a ministry of leadership,” says William Becerra, pastoral organizer for the diocese. “You have to be connected to the parish. It’s a ministry based on local needs.”
These lay ministers are trained to reach out to undocumented immigrants, providing them with information, as well as listening to their struggles and supporting them in their spiritual journeys.
“As a one-to-one ministry, a trust level develops, leading us to address various problems,” says Sergio Olmos, the first St. Viator parishioner to be commissioned.
Ministers also are encouraged to lead parishioners in areas of social justice. The recent immigration rally was a first step.
“You have to be in solidarity with people who have been affected by immigration issues,” Becerra says. “This ministry accompanies these families in this situation, both practically and spiritually.”