With the urgency of the humanitarian crisis happening at the U.S.-Mexico border serving as a backdrop, over 100 Pax Christi USA members gathered on June 27 at Trinity University to honor one whose life mission is advocating on behalf of immigrants.
The focus of this year’s Momentum event was immigration reform, and Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director of the National Immigrant Justice Center and this year’s Teacher of Peace award recipient, was the center of the evening. McCarthy challenged those present to hear the stories of immigrants, to take those stories to our nation’s leaders, and to fight for those stories to influence the policies that shape our land.
“Mary Meg McCarthty has a passion and a driving commitment to uphold the human rights of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in the United States and to journey with these individuals, who are often at the fringes of our society, to access justice,” stated Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN, Executive Director of Pax Christi USA. “She teaches peace and inspires the life-giving hope that justice and peace are indeed within our reach.”
The keynote speech for the evening was presented by Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby and author of A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change and Community. Campbell addressed immigration reform and shared stories of people she met on a border tour she took part in last year.
“Is the American dream false advertising when we lock up the hungry people who try to come here and work for a better future?” Campbell asked.
She reminded those present that changing our nation’s direction on how we treat immigrants is a responsibility we all share. “It is an unpatriotic lie that our country is based on individualism. The U.S. Constitution says ‘we the people’ not ‘we the me.'”
The final speaker was Ivone Guillen, an immigration associate with Sojourners Magazine and a DREAMer herself. Guillen is a recent Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient.
“Millions of undocumented immigrants residing in this country wish to have similar opportunities like the one that I was given through DACA, based on our character and not our places of origin,”stated Guillen. “I cannot forget that I am part of a larger group of individuals who reside in your communities, provide you with customer service at stores and restaurants, and are part of the same congregations that many of you attend. We are people who have established longstanding roots and relationships and have the same kind of dreams, beliefs, and desires as you.”
“Pax Christi USA is grateful for all of those who participated in this year’s event,” stated Sr. Josie Chrosniak, HM, National Council Chair of Pax Christi USA. “From the donation of items for auction, like Fr. Peter Gray’s painting of Saint Kateri Tekawitha, to all of our speakers to every person who came out and joined us in supporting this event. We extend our thanks to all.”