Written by: Sister Bernadine Karge, OP
June 18, 2013
Fog, fear and freedom were my impressions of the final assembly of Nuns On The Bus for 2013 with more than a hundred persons on the banks of San Francisco Bay overlooking Angel Island and Alcatraz! The morning sun dissipated the usual fog over the bay. Three short weeks ago the sun also dissipated the fog over Liberty Island as the Nuns On The Bus, began their 6800 mile journey around the eastern, southern and western perimeter of the United States to promote commonsense immigration reform.
Three speakers shared their family immigrant stories, which included the grandson of a Chinese woman who spent many months in detention on Angel Island until she could prove to the satisfaction of the immigration authorities that she was the wife of an established merchant in Chinatown in San Francisco. Two Episcopalian sisters assisted his grandmother in achieving her goal of coming to America. A local rabbi spoke of his aunt who left Europe to come to work in the garment industry in the USA, which promised a paycheck for her labor. He reminded us that the name “Hebrew” means “border crosser.” The Torah readings for this week speak of two main tenets of the Hebrew teaching: Celebrate the Sabbath and welcome the stranger. Remember that you yourselves were once immigrants in a foreign land. A Catholic bishop recounted how his grandmother left Ireland and worked for two years as a domestic in order to earn passage for her husband to come to join here. Detention, separation and family reunification are current themes in the immigration stories over the centuries.
Each immigrant group was suspect and it was feared that they would change “America” or that they would could not be “American.” Time has proven that each group brings its gifts and talents and helps form community that makes us whole. When “We the People” are given a chance to reach our full potential we are strong and free. May the sun burn brightly to burn away the fog of fear and whatever else prevents us and our legislators from owning our need for immigrants and allowing everyone to meet their full potential as part of the American Dream. The event ended with the familiar: This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine! Fear not—let the light of freedom shine through the fog!