.- The Minnesota Catholic Conference has announced that January 4 will be "Immigration Sunday" for Catholic parishes in the state as part of an effort to raise awareness about the hardships and injustices facing immigrants.
The conference’s Tuesday announcement was timed to coincide with the two-year anniversary of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid on the Swift and Co. meatpacking plant in Worthington, Minnesota, the Star Tribune reports.
Consequences from the raid have had a "devastating impact" on immigrant families and rural communities, the conference said.
Sister Anna Marie Reha, director of the Hispanic ministry for the Diocese of New Ulm, told the Star Tribune that January 4 was chosen because it coincides with the Feast of the Epiphany.
"That feast celebrates the unity of being one human family. This is a chance to recognize and celebrate the gifts and benefits immigrants share with us," she remarked.
Bishop of Winona Bernard Harrington said the conference hopes that the day will make people aware that "immigration policy is outdated and the system is broken."
The bishop noted that immigrants are often detained without being able to contact their children.
"We need to be aware of the hardships and injustices happening right here in our own community," he told the Star Tribune.
Kevin Appleby, director of migration and refugee policy for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Immigration Sunday activities are not intended to advocate for specific actions.
"That's something that the politicians need to take care of," he commented. "There are Catholics on both political sides of the immigration issues, but I think all Catholics agree that we want this solved in a compassionate way."