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July 23, 2019, Adrian, Michigan – Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates joined people throughout the United States who attended Lights for Liberty – local candlelight rallies in support of the rights of immigrants coming across the U.S. southern border.
“It was important for me to be there because I am so angered, saddened, and repulsed by what is going on with children – for all the immigrants who are seeking a better life,” said Sister Aneesah McNamee, OP. “I can sit home and think about why I don’t agree with it, but if I do not go out and do something, then it is pretty pointless for me to even have an opinion.” An immigrant and naturalized U.S. citizen, Sister Aneesah was one of several Adrian Dominican Sisters who attended the rally in front of the Lenawee County Courthouse in Adrian, Michigan.
Also attending in Adrian was Sister Maria Goretti Browne, OP, who said she was “appalled at the treatment of the immigrants at the border. Though it is difficult, I feel that I need to do something. Rallying with a group seemed to be at least doing something. It also put me in touch with others in this county who felt the same as I.”
Associate Sherry Goff attended the Lights for Liberty rally in Adrian “because I want to be visible and vocal about the inhumane treatment of people and to protest ICE,” the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Sister Virginia “Ginny” King, OP, attended the first part of a three-and-a-half-hour rally in Detroit, joining others who were standing in front of the ICE building. “I was amazed at the variety of people who came – about 600,” she said, adding that all faith groups were represented. The crowd received support from drivers passing by, who honked their horns to affirm the rally’s message, Sister Ginny said.
Sister Maureen O’Connell, OP, attended a rally in Houston with local Dominican Friars and Dominican Sisters of Houston. The rally was at the site where last year the groups had rallied against the attempt by SW Key to rent their facility to house unaccompanied minors.
“I am personally appalled by the current climate in this country regarding immigration and the total lack of care for children and families,” Sister Maureen said. “If we stand idle there is no end to the possible inhumane treatment people will receive.”
Sister Rosemary Finnegan, OP, attended the rally in Orlando, Florida, for many reasons. “It was the right thing to do, given the desperate plight of our migrant refugees, the squalid conditions in which they are forced to live, and the urgent need to address a solution immediately,” she said. Sister Rosemary also felt compelled by the Gospel message and the Enactments of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ 2016 General Chapter “to be in solidarity with those on the margins, with the least of them, with our sisters and brothers in need.”
Finally, Sister Rosemary was encouraged to attend because of her own comfort and freedom, compared to the suffering and oppression of the immigrants. “The least I can do is get in my car on a Friday night and join with others who seek compassion and justice for those who are denied their due,” she said.
Participants had similar hopes for the outcome of their activism on behalf of immigrants.
“The outcome I hope for is that the collective voice of the people all over the country who got out and rallied in their towns and cities will truly make a difference,” Sister Aneesah said. “We are better than this.”
Sister Maria hoped that if people at least try to do something, “perhaps the cruelty at the border will be alleviated."
Read a report on the Lights of Liberty rallies in the National Catholic Reporter.
From left: Sister Maureen O’Connell, OP, front row, right, and other members of the Dominican family in the Houston area attended a local rally. Sister Patricia Erickson, OP, attended a rally in Laredo, Texas. Sister Pat is spending a month in Laredo as a volunteer, serving migrant families who come from detention centers to La Frontera Migrant Center.