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September 23, 2022, Viera, Florida – In a guest Op-Ed column for Florida Today, Adrian Dominican Sister Lucy Vazquez, OP, spoke out against the practice of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis of “importing” refugees from Texas to Florida and then sending them to Martha’s Vineyard to make a political statement about immigration.
Sister Lucy wrote that this latest political practice “is a complete contradiction” of the Jesus’ statement in the Gospel that we will be judged on how we treat those in need – including immigrants and refugees – for “as long as you did it to one of these, the least of my little ones, you did it to me” (Mt. 25:40). While immigration reform is needed, she wrote, “we need to afford those who seek refuge in our country the dignity of human beings.”
Writing as a refugee from Cuba, Sister Lucy noted the hard work of her father and of other refugees who sought work to support their families. “Florida would not be as prosperous as it is today without the untold contributions of refugees from Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and other countries,” she wrote.
Read Sister Lucy’s guest column in Florida Today, “Political theater at the expense of refugees is unforgivable cruelty.”
September 20, 2022, Washington, D.C. – Adrian Dominican Sister Donna Markham, OP, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, was one of the nation’s faith leaders invited to attend President Joe Biden’s United We Stand Summit, held at the White House on September 15, 2022.
The United We Stand Summit: Taking Action to Prevent and Address Hate-Motivated Violence and Foster Unity drew bipartisan and non-partisan federal, state, local, and tribal officials; civil rights groups; faith leaders; business leaders; and law enforcement officials. Also among the 200 people invited to the summit were Sister Mary Haddad, RSM, President and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA).
“This was a full-day summit with the President, Vice President, and several members of the cabinet,” as well as survivors of the Pulse Nightclub massacre, the Tree of Life Synagogue Assault, and domestic terrorist attacks in Buffalo, Philadelphia, Florida, Texas, and Virginia, Sister Donna said. The survivors shared their stories of loss and healing.
The Summit “put forward a shared vision for a more united America, demonstrating that the vast majority of Americans agree that there is no place for hate-fueled violence in our country,” according to a White House fact sheet. The White House also recognized 16 “uniters,” including Valarie Kaur, a civil rights and faith leader who served as keynote speaker for the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ 2022 General Chapter.
Sister Donna noted her special role in the summit as a faith leader. “At the opening, as a faith leader, I was invited to be part of a kind of ‘prayer circle’ around the victims who were speakers and to hold all of those who have been killed in prayer,” she said.
“The day was packed – and intense,” Sister Donna recalled. She especially noted a bipartisan panel of mayors who discussed their efforts to promote unity in their city and the invitation to attend lunch in the State Dining Room. “It was a powerful day,” she said. “I was honored to be invited.”
Catholic Charities USA is the national office for diocesan agencies throughout the United States. Its mission is “to provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire church and other people of good will to do the same.”
Catholic Charities agencies serve all people in need in such areas as food and nutrition, affordable housing, social enterprise initiatives, advocacy and social policy initiatives, immigration and refugee services, disaster relief, and leadership development and Catholic identity. Sister Donna is the first female President and CEO in CCUSA’s more than 110 years of history.