Skip to comments.Bishop's pastoral letter hits home for parish employee (Church helps, hires illegal alien ID thief)
Posted on 02/23/2009 11:20:21 AM PST by pulaskibush
Bishop's pastoral letter hits home for parish employee
By Marilyn Lanford
ROGERS -- In November, Bishop Anthony B. Taylor released his first pastoral letter to Catholics in the Diocese of Little Rock called, "I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me: A Pastoral Letter on the Human Rights of Immigrants." In the weeks that followed, staff members at St. Vincent de Paul Church gathered to meet and discuss the pastoral letter. It was at the end of one of the meetings that staff members were asked if they had any experiences related to immigration. A slender, dark-haired young woman, Soledad Hernandez, stood and told her story. "I was arrested here in Rogers on June 26, 2001, at the bank where I was working because my social security number was false. An immigration officer and a private detective came to the bank and asked me for my documents, but I didn't have anything. The officer asked me if I knew my rights, and he wanted me to sign a voluntary deportation paper. I said 'No.' He said, 'In that case, you are going to need a lawyer.'" At the time, Hernandez had lived in Rogers for 10 years. Considering Hernandez a flight risk, the officers of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (now known as Citizenship and Immigration Services) "did not want me to post bond. I have four brothers in Chicago, one sister in California and one brother in Arizona." For the next five weeks, Hernandez stayed in the Washington County jail.
During Hernandez' time in jail, several people reached out to her. Father Miles Heinen, a Vincentian priest working with the Catholic Charities Immigration Services in Springdale, and Sister Mary Paulita Philippe, a Dominican nun, were able to locate legal aid for Hernandez through the Northwest Arkansas chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens. Established in Little Rock in 1994 and in Springdale in 1997, Catholic Charities Immigration Services offer a variety of services to low-income families with regard to family-based immigration law. The current director, Frank Head, said the mission of the organization is "both 'to welcome the stranger among us,' as we are instructed in the Bible, and to help unify families torn asunder by the historical situation we find ourselves in." In an unusual move in August 2001 U.S. Magistrate Beverly Stites Jones of Fort Smith set a $100,000 bond for Hernandez. It was the first time Jones had set bond for anyone facing deportation, according to a 2002 article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The leniency was due in large part to her church community, her family and friends. "Father Miles told the judge I was a very nice person. I was a good citizen, a nice Catholic, a nice mom and a nice neighbor. Other people came forward too," Hernandez said. When the magistrate made her decision, Hernandez said, "She told the court, 'I am going to set up bond for this lady. I have a priest from the Catholic Church who said this person is a good citizen. People of the community have said she is a good mother.'" The $100,000 bond was posted by family and friends, who signed their properties to secure the bond. At the hearing, the judge sentenced her to serve three years of probation. In November 2001, Hernandez pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to using false identification in order to obtain employment, which is a felony, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. For nearly a year, Hernandez fought her deportation in Arkansas and Tennes see courts before the situation was resolved. But it took a toll on her and her family. Her marriage ended in divorce. Her children -- a 13-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son --were cared for by family members.
Hernandez said, "It was during this time that I get close to God in my faith. It is in hard times that you remember. I have a hard time wondering how my children were doing while I was in jail. I was sitting in jail thinking, 'I hope I have another chance to respect myself.' My self-esteem was so down."It was during this year that Hernandez, fearing deportation, worked with her children to learn to read and write in Spanish "in case we had to go back to Mexico." In 2002, as Hernandez went through the final few months of her ordeal to gain lawful status, she and her attorney, Jon Comstock, went to the last hearing at immigration court in Memphis. Hernandez said, "Before going into court that last time, Jon asked me if I was OK. I said, 'Yes, I am OK. I am very confident. If I lose the case, it means that God has something better for me in Mexico. Maybe he wants me to go back to my country. I am in God's hands. You and me, we're going to fight the case. We have already done what is humanly possible. So it is in God's hands." Now Hernandez has her legal permanent resident card and is waiting to become a U.S. citizen. She has fulfilled the five years of residency required and is ready to apply to take her citizenship test. Hernandez said, "When we were reading the bishop's letter and I started talking in the meeting, it was nice to share with the staff -- to show my appreciation during that hard time to those who had been with me. Now we have a bishop who will give us a chance." After she received her work permit, she began volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul Church office. In June 2003 she was hired as the Spanish ministry secretary. Now she is the assistant children's ministry coordinator for kindergarten to fifth grade. "In December of 2003, I was able to get my little house. For the first time in 15 years of living in the U.S. I was going to have my own house for me and my children. I was full of joy. My co-workers gave me a microwave, a Christmas tree and presents for my children." Hernandez said she does not forget that those two years were the hardest years for her. "With all the paperwork, the divorce, my church community has been there for me with all kinds of support -- financial and emotional," she said. "They remember what was going on in my office -- the crying and the laughing. When I think, 'Where did all these blessings come from?' I say, 'Just receive it -- it is from God.' I definitely have an angel on my side. Sister Paulita used to say that I had more than one."
You can also look at the story on my blog here:
What happened to :Mat 22:21 They *said to Him, "Caesar's." Then He *said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's."shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach Adonai
My husband is Catholic and I am not. I do attend mass with him and have thought about converting. I do not view religion as a buffet, to pick and choose what I want to believe and what I don’t. Immigration is one such issue that I have with the Church.
Would your church trust an illegal alien con artist to teach kids at Sunday School?
I wonder how quickly her work permit would be revoked if the District Attorney there suddenly got overwhelmed with concern of her admitting to identity theft and fraud?
The United States enjoys the freedom it has and its prosperity due to its Christian foundation and generally Christian belief system.
The very best way to help those in 3rd world nations who want to come here is to **preach the gospel**!!!! If we do this, then they can enjoy the freedom and prosperity that we have here.
Also...If American Christians wish to keep the prosperity and freedom that we have here in the U.S., and not lose it, we must preach the gospel here!
( By the way, a Christian's *most* important and urgent mission field is that of his own children. His next most important mission field is the children of his extended family and congregation.)
In a nutshell why I do not contribute a dime to Catholic Charities any more and direct my contributions to Catholic organizations that I personally know are doing the work of the Church and not trying to subvert the law of the land in which I live. This is shameful.
I am no longer Catholic.
On the core beliefs of the Catholic Church I have no disagreement, but its fringe practices ( such as immigration, social justice, and liberation theology) drove me NUTZ! It is not reformable as well since the Church is controlled by bishops appointed by a Pope. There is no opportunity for lay input.
I simply could no longer aid and abet an organization that was working to establish a political system ( Marxism) that would ultimate wish to destroy all Christianity.
“Immigration is one such issue that I have with the Church.”
I don’t see how that is possible. You mean ILLEGAL immigration and certain bishops don’t you?
“...but its fringe practices ( such as immigration, social justice, and liberation theology) drove me NUTZ!”
ITS fringe practices? What is “its”? The Church has no practice of immigration or liberation theology. Certain Catholics are teaching the wrong things, but liberation theology, for instance, has been flatly rejected by the Church. The fact that some Catholics still support it is another matter entirely.
“It is not reformable as well since the Church is controlled by bishops appointed by a Pope.”
Ever hear of the Council of Trent - the most famous reform council in history? How is it that the Church was able to accomplish so much reform while still controlled by bishops appointed by the pope?
“There is no opportunity for lay input.”
There is, but not by means of voting. And that is EXACTLY how God made His Church. How many lay people do you see with input at the council of Jerusalem in Acts 15?
“I simply could no longer aid and abet an organization that was working to establish a political system ( Marxism) that would ultimate wish to destroy all Christianity.”
That’s nonsensical. The Catholic Church IS Christianity. She cannot wish to destroy herself nor can even Satan accomplish that goal.
I also grew weary of those who defended the indefensible.
“I also grew weary of those who defended the indefensible.”
That’s a perfect description for your own post.
The majority of Christians don’t believe in supporting illegal immigration, just like they don’t believe in homosexuals in church leadership. It’s a handful of leaders and leftist who want to change the church. I have sent Christian Doctrine on illegal immigration to my pastor as well as elders in my denomination which is the Christian and Missionary Alliance. I would suggest to everyone to do the same.
You are somewhat correct in stating that religion is not a buffet to pick and choose what we want to believe.
The correct way to “pick” a church (I hate that term, because it does not clearly reflect what I believe is the work of God in leading us to a particular church), is to read the Bible for yourself, study, and then find the church that most reflects the New Testament church. If a church is run in a way that teaches, preaches, and practices that tradition is as important as scripture - look out. That introduces man into the equation.
And don’t fall for any particular church’s propaganda. Some are very good at advertising and promotions (there are advertising agencies now dedicated to church promotion!). Find a church that will take you by the hand and teach and help you to mature as a Christian - all the while giving BIBLICAL proof (in context, not just pulled out of rightful context to make a point) for their beliefs and teachings.
And start the search off with PRAYER!. There is no special formula for prayer. While there is what we call the “model prayer” in Matthew (sometimes called the “Lord’s Prayer”), it is a guideline as to what we are suppose to pray for and about. The words themselves are not magical. But they provide an outline to help us focus our prayers on what we need to - glorifying God for who He is, Thanking Him for what He has done for us, and bringing before His throne our petitions for others, for our own ability to discern and to do His will, and finally for the desires of our heart, all in the context of HIS Will.
If you approach finding a church home this way, I believe the Lord will lead you to the right church.
AMEN! And as the Biblical order of sharing the Gospel begins in Jerusalem (our home/family), and progressively further out to strange lands - our neighborhood, our community, our city, state, country, etc.
The #1 mission field neglected by the VAST majority of Christians - the mission field of their home!
That being said - my views on illegal immigrants is a bit complicated. I do want every one of them who are here illegally to go home. But I sure would like to reach as many as I can with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so that they can take HIM home with them. Christ is the ONLY answer to the poverty, hate, unrest, and oppression in those countries. I don’t want them here, but while they are here, I will support sharing the Gospel with them. But I also will not stand in the way of them being deported, nor will I stand in the way of requiring citizenship or legal status to receive any sort of public benefits.
Any church that steps into the arena of protecting criminals is stepping outside the bounds of their protected status as a religious institution. Thus their 501(c)3 status should be on the line, their books subject to public audit, and their business subject to scrutiny.
God’s word on the “visitor” or “stranger”, depending on translation, tells us not to mistreat them. I show the respect due a human being to those I believe to be illegals because they are humans too. But I do not bestow upon them special merits or rights.
**I do attend mass with him and have thought about converting.**
We would welcome you with open arms.
First pray about doing God’s will.
Study and search ( while simultaneously praying).
Listen to the Spirit.
If a person of good will do this, God will direct him to the church in which he can blossom as a Christian and do His will.
On the core beliefs of the Catholic Church I have no disagreement, but its fringe practices ( such as immigration, social justice, and liberation theology) drove me NUTZ!
If I depended upon the politics of my bishop (formerly McCarrick and now Wuerl)(or another American bishop), I would likely agree with you.
But my faith is based upon those core beliefs. And so I don't have much of a choice in where I go. (One of those core beliefs is that Christ founded ONE church)
Bottom line is that Christ promised that the gates of hell will not prevail. This is a spiritual battle we are in, a particularly strident battle at this time. And those weak bishops need prayer. And the strong ones need prayer. A lot of it.
And so if you can't bring yourself to be in communion with us, can I ask you to at least pray for us?
Is your faith truly based upon core beliefs or upon something else?
In no possible way, does God want us to enable evil. Supporting an institution that permits evil to run rampant within its ranks and tempts others to follow evil couldn’t possibly be God’s will.