By Nancy Varekamp – CNews Editor
“Sanctuary is much more than providing a physical space for someone at risk of deportation,” reads the website of nearby St. Andrew Catholic Church. “It is a strategy and set of actions for faith communities, faith-based organizations, and people of conscience.”
The parish takes that statement seriously, according to Diana R. a parishioner active in the movement to support Latino parishioners.
“St. Andrew is very into social justice, so immigration has always been an issue we’ve been involved with,” she said. “When new things started happening, we wanted to make sure the whole parish is into it, and really knowing that we are a sanctuary parish. We’re exploring several aspects.”
Last month’s “Know Your Rights” forum drew 200 people to hear from attorneys and role play various potential scenarios.
A training session for rapid responders in March included 200 volunteers willing to help families in their communities. “We agreed to form friend-families, undocumented persons buddying with citizens to have someone to call in an emergency,” Diana said.
The January “Sanctuary Assembly” also drew a crowd.
Due to space, the church building at 806 N.E. Alberta St. likely won’t serve as a physical sanctuary, unless is absolutely necessary. Instead, parishioners are offering their homes. “They know the legal risk, and many are willing to go all the way,” Diana said.
The parish works with Metropolitan Alliance for the Common Good, and there’s no limit to the preparations. “Nothing has actually happened with our parishioners yet, so we really don’t know how ready we are to respond in a case,” Diana pointed out.
“One of the things that is coming out of all of this is parishioners understanding we are more like each other than different. We are part of a community that shares a lot of values.
“What moves your world is when something happens.”