300 Sisters of Mercy Push for Dream Act

More than 300 Sisters of Mercy are meeting in Concord, N.C. June 21-24 for their biennial Assembly and have set aside part of their time together to fight for the future of young, undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

Members of the Sisters of Mercy – South Central Community are calling their unique initiative “Dial a Dream.” At around 11:40 a.m. on June 22, they’ll pull out their cell phones and devote 20 minutes to calling their representatives in the U.S. Senate and House to urge passage of the DREAM Act. Long stalled in Congress, the DREAM Act would give current, former and future undocumented high school graduates and GED recipients a pathway to U.S. citizenship through college or the armed forces. An estimated 1.1 million students across the United States could be eligible for legal status under the DREAM Act, including more than 50,000 in North Carolina.

“These are our brothers and sisters,” said Sister Rose Marie Tresp of Belmont [in photo], director of justice for the Sisters of Mercy– South Central Community. “God calls us to love them – especially the children, who are here through no fault of their own. Matthew 25:35 tells us, ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me.'”

Dial a Dream will be one of the highlights of the 2012 Assembly of the South Central Community of the Sisters of Mercy, set for June 21-24 at the Embassy Suites in Concord, 5400 John Q. Hammons Drive NW. The Assembly convenes every two years and is not open to the public.
Through the South Central Community, 630 sisters in 18 states, Guam and Jamaica work to serve the needs of people who are economically poor, sick and undereducated, with an emphasis on women and children.

The South Central Community is headquartered in Belmont, where the Sisters of Mercy have been a beloved part of the Gaston County community since 1892. Among its ministries there: Holy Angels for developmentally disabled children and adults, the House of Mercy outreach to those with AIDS/HIV, and Catherine’s House, that serves women and children in transition.

There are 4,000 members of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas in the U.S., Central and South America, the Caribbean, Guam and the Philippines, and 10,000 worldwide, all advocating for social justice while serving people who struggle with poverty and justice. The Sisters of Mercy were founded in Dublin, Ireland, in 1831 by Catherine McAuley.

In Concord, before the calls to Washington begin, Sister Rose Marie will make opening remarks, stressing the importance of bringing about broader lasting change through social advocacy, a focus of the Sisters of Mercy. “For example,” she says, “helping poor migrant workers who pick tomatoes is admirable, but we can also change systems through advocacy—by getting businesses to agree to pay more to tomato pickers.”
Then she’ll introduce two speakers: Sister Rosemary Welsh, executive director of Casa de Misericordia, a domestic violence shelter for abused women and children in Laredo, Texas, and Regina Moody, president/CEO of Holy Angels in Belmont. Each will emphasize the importance of pushing for permanent social change.

Sister Rose Marie has seen first-hand the challenges facing young immigrants trying to build a better life in the United States. Before coming to Belmont in 2008 to serve as director of justice of the Sisters of Mercy of the South Central Community, the Texas native spent seven years as director of ethics at Laredo Medical Center in that Texas city on the Mexican border.

One of the many people she met whose story stirred her support for the DREAM Act: The daughter of illegal immigrants who graduated from a U.S. college with a teaching degree but couldn’t get a teaching certificate because of her undocumented status.
The DREAM Act (www.immigrationpolicy.org), introduced in 2001, permits undocumented students conditional legal status and eventually citizenship based on these provisions:
· Must have been brought to this country before age 16;
· Must have lived in the United States continuously for five years;
· Must have graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED;
· Must have no criminal record; and
· Must complete two years of college or military service.

In addition to the social justice dimension, Sister Rose Marie wants people to appreciate that passing the DREAM Act makes good business sense for a nation in need of an economic boost, as well as for young people yearning to become citizens.
“They want to become productive members of the community,” she says. “And they have the skills and talents to be assets to our society. We need them to become doctors, nurses and teachers. Economically, it’s good for our country.”
It’s a point, no doubt, that will be made when the Sisters of Mercy take to the phones.

The Sisters of Mercy—an international community of Roman Catholic women—dedicate their lives to God through vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and service. For more than 150 years, motivated by the Gospel of Jesus and inspired by the spirit of their founder Catherine McAuley, the Sisters of Mercy have responded to the changing needs of the times.
Through prayer and service, the sisters address the causes and effects of violence, racism, degradation of the Earth and injustice to women and immigrants. The sisters sponsor and serve in more than 200 organizations that work with those in need in the U.S., Central and South America, Jamaica, Guam and the Philippines.

The Sisters of Mercy – South Central Community, which is headquartered in Belmont, N.C., just outside of Charlotte, comprises 18 states, Guam and Jamaica.
Share the mission of mercy. Discover how at mercysc.org.


Buck Lawrimore
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