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Festive, Sobering Mass by Jesuit Groups Celebrated Immigrants and Urged Reform of U.S. Immigration Laws

Monday, Feb. 7, 2011

SAN JOSE, Calif., Feb. 7, 2011— In a day marked by upbeat music, colorful garb, and bracing testimonials, several Bay Area Jesuit institutions held a Catholic Mass Saturday as an expression of solidarity with immigrants to the United States.

The event, held at Most Holy Trinity Church, a Jesuit parish in San Jose, was at times festive and at times solemn, as the congregation listened to the stories of four immigrants who have seen their families ripped apart or lives upended in pursuit of a better life in America.   

One college student was forced to disclose her father’s whereabouts to immigration officials as the price of being freed to attend college. A mother of four described how her husband was absent for months as he tried to get back home after a visit to his ailing mother in Mexico. A young man who has spent almost his entire life in the U.S. discussed how daily uncertainty has made planning for the future nearly impossible.

The gathering’s theme was “The Jesuit Family Welcomes the Stranger,” and was part of a nationwide effort to advocate for civil discourse and movement on immigration reform. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who accepted a letter from the groups urging immigration reform, told the near-capacity crowd that she “agreed with every word” but that more lawmakers needed to be persuaded as well.
Theodore Gabrielli, S.J., provincial assistant for international ministries for the California Province of Jesuits, and one of the event’s concelebrants, gave a homily that explained why Jesuits have made “standing with migrants” a top priority of the order. He told of a question posed by his father, which led him to the conclusion that all children are loved by God but those who suffer the most – such as immigrants – are loved most during their time of need.

The mass also featured rousing music during the liturgy and contributions from parishioners from Samoa, Vietnam, Mexico, Latin America and the Phillippines, many decked out in colorful and festive outfits.

The groups who jointly sponsored or supported the Mass were:

  • Santa Clara University
  • The California Province of Jesuits
  • Bellarmine College Preparatory High School
  • Most Holy Trinity Church
  • Sacred Heart Nativity School
  • Companions in Ignatian Service and Spirituality
  • The Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos
  • Jesuit Volunteer Corps
  • Our Lady of Grace Nativity School for Girls
  • Pacific Institute of Community Organizing
  • Sacred Heart Jesuit Center
  • Sacred Heart Nativity School for Boys

Since last year, Jesuits and others throughout the U.S. have been praying and advocating for comprehensive reform with the following attributes:

•    A path to legalization that ensures that undocumented immigrants have access to full legal rights
•    A legal employment structure for future workers that protects both migrants and U.S. workers
•    Expedited family reunification and emphasis on family unity for all immigrants
•    The promise of due process and humane enforcement of our immigration laws
•    Development assistance and fair competition with developing countries

Jesuit leaders around the country also have been shining a spotlight on the subject of immigration law reform this year, through projects like the Kino Border Initiative (a Mexico-based program of direct assistance to those deported from the U.S.), Masses (Catholic church services) focused on immigrant concerns, and letter campaigns to Congress and President Obama.

The letter to lawmakers can be found here:

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University is a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley. Santa Clara offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master’s degrees in a number of professional fields, law degrees, and engineering and theology doctorates. Distinguished by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, Santa Clara educates leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion grounded in faith-inspired values. Founded in 1851, Santa Clara is California’s oldest operating institution of higher education. For more information, see

Media Contact:
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | (408) 554-5121 |


Tags: immigration, Jesuit

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