Strangers No Longer
March 2022
Save the Date! SNL Banquet April 24th - Click here for more.
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INVESTMENT = FUTURE FOR STRANGERS NO LONGER  
Our first annual banquet will be held on Sunday, April 24th from 1-4 PM..  We are delighted to host US Representative Debby Dingell (confirmed) and we have also invited Cardinal Joseph Tobin. You could help to make this event a success by investing in Strangers No Longer in two ways--by selling or purchasing an ad or greeting that will appear in our banquet program or by purchasing tickets for the event.

Banquet Ads: Join our Banquet Ad Book Team in seeking ads from businesses, churches, and organizations. Our future depends on lots of people getting ads from lots of places for our banquet program. The deadline for ad submission is April 1st.  Click here for details.  

Banquet Tickets: Tickets are being sold through SNL Circles of Support. Check with the Circle Leader at your parish or email strangersnolonger11@gmail.com.  Tickets are $25/each.  

Investment? Yes – we get support from foundations – but it is the membership who invest because they believe in our work, our values, our community, our adherence to Catholic Social Teaching – and our affection for a Pope who challenges us to receive immigrants as our brothers and sisters.  Call 313-549-0421 for more information.
SNL ADDRESSES 800+ AT DIVINE CHILD HIGH SCHOOL IN DEARBORN
On Tuesday February 8, SNL leader Daris Bartolon shared her personal testimony with 800 staff and students of Divine Child High School in Dearborn, MI. Strangers No Longer was invited to share as a part of a Defending Human Dignity series. With translation by SNL staff Amy Ketner, Daris shared why she left Guatemala, what she survived on her journey north, and what life is like for her here in Michigan - including serving as a leader of the immigrant women's Circle called, Mujeres Bajo la Protección de Dios.

Later that week, Daris and Amy were invited back to record two episodes for Divine Child's Campus Ministry podcast called Godcast. Amy discussed the Church’s teachings about immigration and how Strangers No Longer responds. In a second episode, Daris shared where she has found God amidst suffering.   Listen to the podcasts here

It was the Archdiocese of Detroit who referred Divine Child to Strangers No Longer…! Thanks to the Department of Multi-Cultural Ministry at the AoD.  
NATIONALLY RENOWNED SR. NORMA PIMENTIL MEETS WITH SNL
Sister Norma Pimentel spoke to SNL via Zoom on March 8th. Sister Pimentel has been on the front lines of mercy for three decades, supporting migrants who are seeking refuge in the U.S. along the Texas border with Mexico. Sr. Pimentel directs efforts to provide shelter, food, sanctuary, and comfort to people often treated as less than human. Her organization has housed and assisted well over 100,000 people at the border. 

Sr. Norma challenged us to reconsider the story of the shepherd who had 100 sheep but realized that one sheep was lost. What if the lost sheep is not a refugee but a person who doesn’t understand or support the immigrants trying to enter the U.S.? What if that sheep is the one who needs our understanding and mercy? Something to reflect on.

It was an inspiring event!!

YOUTH LEADERS ACROSS BORDERS PREPARE FOR A SECOND CONFERENCE ON APRIL 27
In February 2020 Cristo Rey High School students and teachers hosted a conference attended by students from 10 Catholic High Schools. Their guests were young people from Mexico and El Salvador who facilitated discussions about why people migrate and how climate change effects migration. The students also learned how the guests build community with people who are deported back to their home countries after living most of their lives in the U.S. It was a meaningful experience for everyone.

Now two years later, Campus Ministers and theology teachers from ten area Catholic High Schools are meeting regularly with Strangers No Longer staff to prepare for a second High School Immigration Conference: Brother Rice, Marian, Mercy, UD Jesuit, Cristo Rey, Notre Dame, Shrine, Divine Child, Loyola Jesuit, Catholic Central – and the Youth Ministry Team at Crist the Good Shepherd in Lincoln Park – are all engaged in the planning. Other high schools are being contacted. 

At this second conference, students will gather at Cristo Rey High School in Detroit to listen to stories of local immigrant leaders, reflect on the immigration system through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching, and take direct action to promote the dignity of immigrants in our communities. These students will then be invited to form Circles of Support at their high schools.
SNL ADVOCACY TASKFORCE GETS INTO THE COUNTIES
Working with Emma Davis from Global Detroit, the SNL Advocacy Team has been meeting with the executives of the departments responsible for welcoming initiatives in each of the southeastern Michigan counties. To date they have met with
  • Melanie Grund, from the Office of Oakland County Executive Community Outreach
  • Ernest Cawvey, Director of Macomb Community Action,
  • Luz Viviana Meza, Director of Economic Development for Wayne County. 

At least 15 SNL members have attended each meeting. More meetings are to come with the executives from the City of Detroit, St. Clair County, and Washtenaw County.  

The meetings have introduced SNL to the welcoming efforts of each of these counties. One thing that is clear is that all three counties have an array of resources that may benefit immigrants in their day-to-day lives. For instance, there does seem to be money available to help with rent for people who qualify. We need to better understand how to take advantage of these resources. Our next step will be to connect available resources with immigrants we are working with through presentations throughout the southeastern Michigan area.  

If you would like to help, send your contact information and the county you live in to: strangersnolonger11@gmail.com. We have started forming teams for each county depending on residence. This is a great way to have real impact on the day-to-day lives of immigrants struggling to live in our area.
“THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGING” – OUR RAPID RESPONSE TEAM ADJUSTS
The Rapid Response Team of Strangers No Longer meets monthly to strategize ways to get our legislators to take action that will support our immigrants. They began their work several months ago with hope that, with the Biden administration, something could get done. But when the team met in February, they had to acknowledge that the path to immigration reform looks very bleak.  Even our partner Alianza Americas is changing course to a longer-term future without meaningful immigration reform.  So where do we go from here? Some highlights of the discussion:

  • What does power mean and how can we change who has it?
  • Can we change the narrative of immigration to emphasize economic benefits that immigrants provide to our communities and rely less on the morality of it?
  • Can we put together a formal presentation on SNL – who we are, what we’ve done, and what we would like to do-- and then ask Rapid Response members and other allies to bring the presentation to their churches and other groups?
  • Can we get Bill O’Brien, our Executive Director, interviewed on some Catholic podcasts? There is a popular one based out of Saginaw.
  • The Rapid Response Team can sponsor a table at the SNL annual banquet on April 24th which will feature Representative Debbie Dingell. We will be able to talk to her personally about immigration and immigration reform.

It is difficult to acknowledge that meaningful immigration reform is not likely for the U.S. any time soon. But we must stay visible to legislative leaders so when the time does come—we are ready!
REFLECTIONS ON THE STORY OF HAGAR
Three years ago, I wrote an essay interpreting the passage narrative of Hagar in the book of Genesis 16:1-16 and 21:9-21. What attracted my attention was what Hagar had to endure for her survival. Hagar was a foreign woman, an outsider, an immigrant. She was Sarah’s handmaid and slave therefore she was at a great disadvantage. She was not only the slave of a family, but also a slave of an excluding social, religious, economic, and political system. However, God was with her in the wilderness! God not only heard and saw her suffering but promised that she would be the mother of innumerable offspring, like the promise God made to Abraham. Hagar, in fleeing from suffering, had a profound experience of God. God talked to her and she responded to God giving God a name “You are El-Roi.” Here is a woman whose encounter with God triggered her initiative and ownership; without fear, gave God a personal name. Her experience of God strengthened her to endure suffering. Hagar not only survived but was liberated from her slaved situation. Here is a woman whose experience of God transformed her and prepared her for a better future for her and for her son.

The lives of women who come to the United States from other countries are not very different from Hagar’s life. There are similarities. Immigrant women are considered outsiders, strangers. Most of them need to work long hours cleaning houses or hotels or working in restaurants. Others work in farming camps during the whole summer and part of the fall season. Because of their immigration status, they are excluded from the rights and benefits granted to American citizens. They endure all this so they can give a better future to their children. However, they are certain that God has always been and continues being with them. In the wilderness, in a land that is not theirs, they are heard and supported by Strangers No Longer. The space that Strangers No Longer offers them through the Circles of Support, is a source of opportunities for the integral growth of these women.
As Hagar did, immigrant women are speaking. They are present in the meetings of Strangers No Longer and are building relationships with non-immigrants through Circle partnerships. Currently, the Circle Mujeres Bajo la Proteccion de Dios has had meetings with the Circle of St. Michael Catholic Community in Sterling Heights. The Circle Mujeres de Fe y Esperanza is having a monthly meeting with the Circle of Support at St. Charles Borromeo and Nativity. Immigrant women are sharing their stories in high schools. Also, they are attending virtual sessions of spiritual, social, and emotional formation. They want to make known what God has done for them and be prepared for building a better future. They want to come out of the shadows and they are working on that. As they experience Strangers No Longer, they are enthusiastically participating in the events of the organization as well as in the formation program offered for women leaders and for the immigrant women circles. Little by little more women are joining the women’s circles. Right now, there are 53 women participating in six Circles of Support. These women trust God who has seen their suffering and sorrows; and they know, like Hagar, that God keeps the promise of a better future for them.
- Sr. Martha de la Torre J., SMR
AN INVESTMENT IN SNL IS AN INVESTMENT IN STATEWIDE HEALTH OUTREACH
One more reason to invest in SNL: Did you know that Strangers No Longer partners with Catholics across the state of Michigan? A team of leaders is building a family-to-family network of health promoters who outreach to Spanish-speakers and farmworkers in rural and isolated regions. These health promoters provide information about the COVID-19 vaccine and help community members get access to the vaccine as well as other health-related resources. This project is called Somos Salud, which means We Are Health in Spanish, and is made possible by Alianza Americas.

Currently, four health-promoters are leading these efforts: Blanca Astúa, from Holland (Diocese of Grand Rapids), Gladys Muñoz and Angelica Ledesma from Traverse City (Diocese of Gaylord), and Maricela Ortiz from Romeo (N-Macomb Vicariate Hispanic Ministry).  
SNL CIRCLE LEADER FORMATION PROGRAM
This year, Strangers No Longer is excited to kick off a new Circle Leaders Formation Program to better support our Circle leaders and build community together. Over 45 leaders met for our first session on Saturday, January 22. In large and small groups, we discussed the following: 

  • Jesus left his disciples with the responsibility to build community and care for each other. (John 19:25-27) What is our responsibility to building Christian communities today, and what must these communities and Church look like? 
  • We all come to Strangers No Longer because we have needs to fulfill such as the need for community, mutual support, a platform to put our faith into action. It is important that we understand our personal needs. What needs bring you to Strangers No Longer?  
  • To better meet these needs, we began to outline Best Practices for forming a community in our Circles of Support. These best practices can be found in the packet that is attached. Click here.

Future sessions will take place on the fourth Saturday of the month, 10:00 - 11:15 am via Zoom. Our next Circle Leaders Formation session will take place on March 26, 2022. If you have are interested in joining these sessions, please contact Amy Ketner at amyketner.snl@gmail.com or 810-252-2664.
INVESTING IN SNL ON A MONTHLY BASIS – NOW MADE EASY
We recognize that our donors may appreciate the convenience of establishing a monthly donation to Strangers No Longer, the same way donors may pay other monthly bills. With that idea in mind, SNL has added a monthly option to our electronic donation page. Starting from the “donate” button on our webpage (strangersnolonger.org) or at the bottom of this newsletter, simply indicate the amount you want to contribute monthly from your credit card and check the monthly option box. You will be sent an email reminder 10 days before each donation and you will receive a separate receipt when each donation is processed. You can cancel this monthly deduction at any time. 

If you have any questions, please email us at strangersnolonger11@gmail.com. Thank you for your support!  
SNL BECOMES BI-LINGUAL
Over the last year and with the help of staff member Sr. Martha de la Torre, SNL has been privileged to add six Circles of Support comprised of over 50 immigrant women:

  • Women Under God’s Protection - Detroit/Downriver/Ann Arbor 
  • Women of Faith and Hope - Detroit/Downriver/Ann Arbor  
  • Women Carriers and Light - Northern Detroit Suburbs 
  • St. Andre Bessette / Ss. Andrew and Benedict - Detroit/Downriver
  • Women Dreamers -Traverse City
  • Flowers of Mary - Traverse City

In addition, we now have Spanish-speaking Board Members and Circle Leaders.  

The welcome addition of these members has led to changes in how we conduct meetings and communicate with each other. We now have a translator at all our Zoom meetings so that Spanish-speaking and English-speaking members are better able to exchange ideas. We are working on having all our communications provided in English and in Spanish. New this month, we will now produce a Spanish-version of our newsletter! You will find a button to press at the top of each newsletter to view the Spanish version. 
 
These changes mean, as diverse sisters and brothers, we are participating together in a truly meaningful way. SNL is blessed and enriched by diverse voices.
WE TELL OUR STORY AT UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT MERCY -- MARCH 21ST AT 4:00 P.M.
SNL staff Sr. Martha de la Torre, SMR, and Amy Ketner will discuss their work with Strangers No Longer supporting immigrants in Michigan through accompaniment, education, and advocacy. In addition, leaders of SNL Immigrant Women Circles of Support will share their personal stories about why they left their home countries, what their journey to the U.S. was like, and what they have experienced as immigrants in Michigan. There will be simultaneous translation.

LEARN SPANISH FROM A NATIVE SPANISH SPEAKER
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
323-915-8357
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, our help is needed.
19972 Shrewsbury
Detroit, MI 48221
313-549-0421