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Student groups host immigration prayer night to commence Hispanic Heritage Month

| Thursday, September 24, 2020

Saint Mary’s Student Diversity Board (SDB), Campus Ministry and the Better Together club worked together to hold the Immigration Prayer Service at Regina Chapel on Tuesday evening. This prayer service kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations on campus.

Senior and SDB president Carina Garza said Hispanic Heritage Month’s proximity to the upcoming elections is important to remember.

“As it is getting close to election season we want people to understand that immigrants are usually seeking asylum, or are looking for a better life not for themselves but for their children,” Garza said. 

The service began with a land acknowledgment, recognizing the native people that use the land the groups gathered on — the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi and the Miami were forced to move to the area in the 18th century.

“It’s important to recognize the people that were here before us, they may not have been like the people who eventually came here,” Garza said. “They weren’t white, they weren’t Christians but … it’s something that needs to be recognized, it’s something that needs to be talked about, which I feel like today it’s kind of taboo to talk about.” 

Having prayer in times of global suffering is much needed during a time with much division in the United States, director of Campus Ministry Regina Wilson said.

“Prayer benefits us by drawing us together in a common experience of being together in God’s presence reminding us that we are sisters and brothers. … That unity includes all immigrants,” Wilson said. “We are with them on their journeys and hopes for a new life.“

The community continued praying as whole, naming different intentions, including those seeking asylum and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Senior and president of the Better Together club Jaqueline Rojas said it is important to recognize that immigrants are humans worthy of being treated in an equal way.

Another prayer intention was for children of immigrants who live in fear of their families being torn apart because their parents are undocumented.

Rojas said coming from El Paso, Texas informs her perspective on the experiences of immigrants.

“I am truly able to see and witness everything that happens and how much immigrants suffer, so it’s really important to me for people to acknowledge that this suffering does exist in our country,” Rojas said.

The service ended with Rojas singing “Iglesia Peregrina.”

“The song is about a pilgrimage and how we are all one church — we are all one people,” Garza said.

This is the first time Saint Mary’s has held a prayer service like this, but organizers said they look forward to doing it again in the future. 

“Not only do we have to fight for justice, we also have to pray for it,” Rojas said.

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