Strangers No Longer
January 2023
  • SAVE THE DATE - SNL's 2nd Annual Banquet and Fellowship Celebration -
  • Sunday, April 23rd from 1pm to 4pm
Ukrainian Cultural Center - 26601 Ryan Rd, Warren (Ryan and I-696)
With prayer, song, and testimonies on December 9th, 350 people gathered for our first-ever Assembly to Affirm Human Dignity. Representatives from Oakland and Macomb counties and the City of Detroit and State Senators Mary Cavanagh and Jeff Irwin and State Representatives Tyrone Carter and Regina Weiss were in attendance along with 60 students from six area Catholic high schools.

The resounding message? Restore the right to obtain a driver’s license or state ID card for residents of Michigan regardless of immigration status. That right was taken away in 2008. Since then, some Michigan legislators have introduced bills (called the Drive Safe bills) to reinstate that right at every new legislative session but have not even been able to get a hearing in committee.
To start the process of getting this legislation passed, SNL will hold a “Drive Safe Advocacy Day” on February 28th. We will travel to Lansing to meet with our own personal legislators and urge their support of these bills.

Showing up in numbers on that day will show our power. We hope to have 100+ advocates join us, and we plan to talk to at least 35 legislators. WE NEED YOU! And we need you to ask your friends across the state to meet us there on February 28th!  

SNL will organize the meetings with our legislators and supply supporting material - but we need you there in person and spirit to join with our voices.

Click here for more information.
Our Executive Director, Bill O'Brien, reflects on what we accomplished in 2022. Here are some of the highlights:

  • We created a platform of issues important to immigrants in our area to guide our activities in 2023,
  • We held our first banquet to celebrate, educate, and fundraise,
  • We hosted Sr. Norma Pimentel, and
  • We organized student Circles of Support in Catholic high schools.

To close Strangers No Longer’s December 9th Assembly to Affirm Human Dignity, over 60 Catholic High Schools students lined the room and raised their hands in a blessing over elected officials and community leaders. These students came from 7 area Catholic High Schools: Shrine, Divine Child, Mercy, Detroit Cristo Rey, University of Detroit-Jesuit, Marian and Brother Rice. Their participation was thanks to the student and educator leadership at their schools.
Since September 2022, youth leaders from these and other schools and parish youth groups, have met monthly as a regional committee called Youth in Action for Immigration. At these meetings, the students plan events and exchange resources and advice as they start Circles of Support in their schools. They have elected leaders to committee positions such as Chair, Secretary, Communications Coordinator, and Chaplain.

Teachers and campus ministers have also been gathering to plan various youth opportunities, including Strangers No Longer’s third youth Conference to be held in March 2023 and a summer immersion trip to Northern Michigan to meet and learn from migrant workers and their families.
Strangers No Longer has been on the road, crisscrossing the Lower Peninsula over the past four months. Building on the two years of SNL’s Health Promoters’ COVID-outreach across the state, staff member Amy Ketner has been paying monthly visits to the Dioceses of Saginaw, Grand Rapids and Gaylord.

In the Diocese of Gaylord, a core team of Catholic leaders, both immigrants and non-immigrants, meet monthly in Traverse City to strengthen community and strategize ways to grow. Thanks to their connections, Amy has met leaders of parishes in counties across the region -- many of which are excited to engage in our mission.
In the Diocese of Saginaw, Catholic leaders have introduced Amy to immigrant farm workers, local farm owners, and parish leaders. In the Alma region, they’re peacefully and powerfully responding to the violent anti-immigrant movement that resisted welcoming unaccompanied minors. Further south, Amy joined SNL Health Promoter, Jesse Castilla, as he and his Great Lakes Bay Health Migrant Outreach team visited migrant workers on the dairy farm that employs them.

In the Diocese of Grand Rapids, the Hispanic Ministry Team’s José Astúa has been working hard to connect Strangers No Longer with his team and with parishes across the Diocese. SNL Staff Martha de la Torre J., SMR, and Amy have met with José and his team to discuss starting parish-based Circles of Support. Additionally, Amy has met with leaders of parishes, Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids, Catholic Charities West MI and a grassroots interfaith advocacy network called Together West Michigan.

Many statewide leaders travelled to Detroit to attend the December 9th Assembly to Affirm Human Dignity and were energized to be a part of our larger community already engaged in support for immigrants. Strangers No Longer looks forward to continued collaboration with these statewide leaders, as our staff plans 2023 visits.
We are beginning a new year after the seasons of Advent and Christmas. Advent, a time of patient waiting for God’s promise to dwell among us. Christmas, the promise come true: God is with us.  Throughout our lives, we experience many moments of Advent, patiently waiting for things to be transformed. But this patient waiting is not a static one, it is an active waiting because we do what is necessary for a change. It is the presence of Jesus that nourishes our hope and maintains us active in our daily waiting. That is why the coming of Jesus overflows our hearts with joy.

For the immigrant women's circles of support the year 2022 was one of Advent, of living an active wait for the new life to become concrete in the reality of their lives. During this year, women participated in psychological accompaniment workshops and women’s dignity workshops. They were committed to participate each month in the workshops because they are aware that it is also a personal task to improve their lives and to have the necessary abilities to relate to other people who share the same ideal. Month to month they also attended the circle meetings where they nourished their faith through contemplative prayer. They are experiencing a God who is compassionate and who cares for them. They are learning to see themselves through the eyes of a God who loves them tenderly.
These activities have led them not only to feel better about themselves, but to feel themselves as an active part of Strangers No Longer in its commitment to live the invitation of Pope Francis to " Welcome, protect, promote and integrate Migrants" in our society. Our past Assembly for Human Dignity is a sample of this joint work. Immigrant women are taking the risk to make their voices heard; they have publicly make known what it means to live without a driver’s license because of their undocumented status. Immigrant women are aware that the American people need to know the injustices they face in daily life. By doing this, immigrant women circles, and nonimmigrant circles of support are working together to better the lives of all.

It is possible that the season of Advent will be prolonged in the circles of support of immigrant women. But as it is an active wait, women will continue to work towards God's promise, towards the recognition that Emmanuel, God with us, is present in their lives accompanying their journey and their struggles. For them, the promise still stands, and they are heading towards it doing the best they can to have a better life, a dignified life.

Sr. Martha de la Torre J., SMR
We are in a new year and new territory as a Board of Directors. Last year the Board was reconfigured, and we now have an equal number of people representing Spanish-speaking Circles (5) and English-speaking Circles (5) along with 5 at-large members. In addition, there is now a Spanish-speaking Circle representative serving on the Executive Committee (Veronica Camorena is the new Vice-President). These were important moves as Strangers No Longer wants to amplify the voices of immigrants whenever possible, rather than speaking in their stead.

Because for many on the Board, serving in this capacity is a new experience, the role of the Board was presented briefly last year and at our next meeting a trainer has agreed to do a more in-depth training and make recommendations which will be our next steps.

I consider us so fortunate to walk this journey together and I believe Strangers No Longer is a unique partnership. We English-speaking members are learning how to be allies and Spanish-speaking members are finding a place for their voices so everyone can serve, learn, and grow.

By the way, Board of Directors’ meetings are open for other SNL members as observer/participants.

We meet quarterly and our meetings are normally on the second Saturday of January, April, July and October from 10:00 to 11:45. If you contact us at, you can get an invitation.

Rosemary Insley
Board President
The next SNL board meeting is scheduled for Saturday, April 8, from10:00 – 11:45 on Zoom. All are welcome! Contact if you would like to attend.
  • Young Catholics want to see the church live the gospel. Passionate about justice work, young Catholics don’t always agree with church leaders on how to best live out Jesus’ teachings. Click Here

  • The morality of migration is easy. It is the politics that is difficult. President Biden was in El Paso, Texas recently. Read here about his conversation with Most Reverend Mark J. Seitz D.D., 6th Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso. Click Here.
The Circle of Support at Gesu has a parishioner and asylum seeker who has founded a school to teach Spanish. The school offers classes for children and adults. They offer a variety of services including classes for medical professionals to help them converse with their patients, Spanish for business, Spanish for travelers, as well as children’s courses.  

The classes are all taught by native Spanish speakers. Currently all the classes are taught online. 

Carmen Luna, owner
Luna Spanish Center
SNL has received 501c3 status--Contributions to SNL since July 24, 2020 are now tax deductible.
Please donate whatever you can to support the work of Strangers No Longer. Now, more than ever, your help is needed.
19972 Shrewsbury
Detroit, MI 48221