The present moment in time is a critical opportunity to stand with Dreamers. “Dreamers” refers to immigrant youths brought to the U.S. as children by their parents without legal documentation. The current administration has eliminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program thereby removing protections (that begin expiring March 5, 2018) for nearly 800,000 young people who live next door, work with us, and worship alongside us at church.
As we prayed the Novena for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in our parishes and homes and other places (and a journey through the streets of our cities where the shrines of Our Lady shine forth in the night will remind us of this) let us remember her words to Juan Diego: “Are you not under my shadow and protection?” Let us place DACA Youth and Dreamers under the protection of our Blessed Mother and, as she draws us close to her Son, may we hear his call to his disciples to “Be watchful! Be alert!”
Advent is not a time to fall asleep, but it is a time to dream and hope and to prophetically reflect and speak. As bishops in Orange County, California, we join bishops throughout the nation in working actively for the dream of a comprehensive immigration reform that will address our broken immigration system. As we await that justice, we cry out on behalf of DACA Youth and other Dreamers that they may have the chance to stay in the only home they have ever known.
We recall the circumstances before the birth of Jesus that required pregnant Mary and Joseph to make a journey to register with the occupying Roman Empire. We recall the dream in which the angel of the Lord warned Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt in order to spare the child Jesus from certain death. We recall the countless persons – children, youth, women, men, families – that we have met in the course of our ministries, immigrants that are leaders in our parishes and blessings to our communities.
In the celebrations of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Patroness of the Diocese of Orange and the Patroness of the Americas), the Vietnamese Martyrs, Simbang Gabi, Santo Niño, and so many devotions from the cultural richness of the Body of Christ here in the Diocese of Orange, especially during this Advent season, we are reminded of the many ways that God has bound us together in love as his people. If we reflect on these sacred and joyful celebrations of Faith, we can also be brought back to celebrations of Faith and family that the Italians, Polish, Irish, Germans and other immigrant families brought with them to our shores, and how they built up their communities here in these United States in past generations. As the United States of America, we would not be the same reality and community, had they not been here!
In Advent, we wait, we dream of the concreteness of love. This love comes into the world in the person of Jesus Christ, the Word become flesh. As Pope Francis has said, “Jesus himself, when he speaks of love, tells us concrete things: feed the hungry, visit the sick. They are all ‘concrete things’ for indeed ‘love is concrete’” (1/9/14).
We ask you to express love in a concrete way during Advent in two ways.
– First, please pray for DACA Youth, Dreamers, and all immigrants who come to Orange County from every corner of the globe.
– Second, please contact your member of Congress and urge them to publicly support Dreamers and pass the DREAM Act to protect these young people and their families. More resources for prayer and action are available at rcbo.org/immigrationministry.
May the Lord keep us awake as we await with joyful hope; may God grant us the grace to make concrete the dreams of the coming Kingdom of God, which we will hear narrated in Sacred Scripture these days of Advent; and may we strengthen the bonds among us as the human family as we await with active patience the celebration of the birth of our Lord.
The Most Rev. Kevin W. Vann
Bishop of Orange
The Most. Rev. Timothy Freyer
Auxiliary Bishop of Orange
The Rev. Thanh Thai Nguyen
Auxiliary Bishop-elect of Orange