A Holy Week Reflection on our Immigration Lenten Promise

By Sister Kayjoy Cooper, ACJ
April 17, 2014

Sister Kayjoy is one of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus from the greater Philadelphia area. She has been participating in our campaign to “Make Immigration Reform Your Lenten Promise.”  

 Holy Thursday, April 14, 2014

It is night time in Holy Week, 2014.  We are able safely to go out in the dark to the Services and then to go to bed peacefully at Saint Raphaela Center in Pennsylvania. No one will come banging on the door to frighten us and shouting, roughly grab any of our members.

Dealing first hand with undocumented immigrants, I know that many families are never far from fear. In Florida, Jose, here twenty-one years, working and having taxes taken out of his pay,  told me his heart races whenever he sees a police car on the highway, even though it is nowhere near his vehicle. Juana told me that she doesn’t like her young daughters going to the factory to work in Georgia in case there is a raid and she never sees them again; but they need to work. They want to work. At the hard jobs, like her husband, one son, and an uncle do in the back kitchens of a restaurant chain.

The Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus coordinate a program of food and other material assistance to many hundreds of families; it takes attention to multiple details for its smooth running and proper accountability to donors. This program was temporarily disrupted by grief when an Hispanic family was torn apart by the capture and deportation of the father. Let’s call him Samuel.

Viviana, let’s call her, his wife, into whose hands we had placed the assistance program details,  was a physician in her Latin nation of origin. She cannot serve in the medical profession in the U.S., as much as she continues to be drawn to healing. However, she put all her intelligent energy into co-managing this program. One day, Samuel disappeared. There were hours of desperation before Viviana learned that indeed ICE had taken her husband of 14 years. He was deported in four days, leaving Viviana and her children more vulnerable than ever. How grieved we all were with this sudden disappearance of a good and loyal friend and helper. We were helpless to console the family and  as American citizens ashamed of what had happened in a way reminiscent of ‘disappearances’ in fascist-type governments. The entire family was thrown into a panic, children crying and getting sick. Their only solution was to pull up stakes and “run away” into hiding.

Yes, this is but one of many real-life reasons why I decided that Immigration Reform is to be the focus of my 2014 Lent. My efforts began before Lent and will continue as will those of my congregation world=wide. There won’t be true spring in the heart of the USA until acts like these which violate human dignity cease.


“Jesus in Eucharist, our reason for being together.
+ Saint Raphaela Mary
Spain, 1850 – Rome, Italy, 1925

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