On Saturday, July 7, we tabled on behalf of Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC at the annual Mega Concierto 2018 at Jacobs Pavilion in the Flats behind Windows on the River. The concierto was largely put together by our friend Mr. Marco Grgurevic-Pujana, the General Manager of TSJ Media/La Mega 87.7/Vocero Latino.
Six different groups from Hispanic countries would be performing that day, offering a wide range of genres. Mr. Grgurevic-Pujana said the purpose of the concierto was to celebrate the richness and diversity of the Hispanic culture. He wanted those who are Hispanic to use it as an occasion to embrace their roots and to expose those who aren’t Hispanic to the beautiful talents that were present.
We tabled for a couple of hours next to the booth of the Cuyahoga County Veterans Services Commission staffed by Ms. Charlene Amos. Other entities that had tables there were the Ohio Lottery, McDonalds, and Metro PCS.
While we tabled, we gave away several copies of Ms. Margaret W. Wong’s book The Immigrant’s Way to Ms. Rosie Jaran and Ms. Doris Yee (old friends of Ms. Wong’s) and made the acquaintance of a young man who immigrated to the United States from Russia when he was only 15 and is open to being interviewed for iForeignBorn.
An elderly man took our business card and said, “You’re immigration. We need more of that. Thank you for being here!”
The next day was Sunday, July 8, and our event for the day was a Mass for Justice on behalf of immigrant families and for progress toward comprehensive immigration reform. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Nelson Perez at Sacred Heart Chapel on Pearl Avenue in Lorain, Ohio.
We arrived early and got to visit with our good friend Sister Rita Mary Harwood, SND, who brought with her a beautiful, newly created banner reminding people that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were once refugees in the land of Egypt after they fled King Herod.
Other people we knew who were there included Reverend William A. Thaden, Pastor of Sacred Heart Chapel; Ms. Carol Kovach, Editor of the Northeast Ohio Catholic; Mr. Nelson Ramirez, Executive Director of Hispanic UMADAOP; Mr. Jose Mendiola of the Lorain Ohio Immigrant Rights Organization; Mr. Tom Mrosko, Director of Migration and Refugee Services, a department of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Cleveland; and Father Bob Wentz, now semi-retired, who is another good friend of Ms. Wong’s.
At the beginning of his address, Bishop Perez said that we are here to pray for immigrants, particularly the undocumented, whose families are being separated at this time. He expressed appreciation that so many of the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament turned out for this celebration. Ms. Kovach told us that this particular order consisted of teachers who largely work in Hispanic parishes.
Bishop Perez then asked us to consider the fact that so many immigrants who are undocumented came to the United States not only to seek a better life but to escape persecution in their homelands. Accordingly, the Church has no borders and is very welcoming of those seeking asylum. The Bishop firmly stated that of course each country has a right to defend its borders but its immigration policy must be rooted in compassion and people’s dignity. He acknowledged that our current immigration system is “broken” and must be overhauled.
He urged us to not lose hope because, even though very few have the power to change our immigration laws, we can still do all we can to help people facing deportation while having faith that God will act in a manner that will ultimately be for the benefit of all of us. He went on to say that actions that the Church could take are to encounter and accompany the undocumented who are suffering.
He called forward for recognition those who had recently completed a program which will better equip them to offer their services (encounter) to those facing deportation and be supportive of them (accompany) through the process. He then commissioned them as companions and said that the most important thing they could do is offer their love to these people in order that they might find the strength to undergo the travails ahead.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop Perez brought his good humor to the forefront when he apologized for the Mass being a long one, but said, “So what?” After all, reasoned the Bishop, “people will wait for over an hour for a meal at Outback Steakhouse.”
Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC