November 2020
Post-Election Issue
What's next? - Assembly of Circles Meeting November 14th
Analysis of Michigan -- what did we learn from this election? How do political leaders see our grassroots work for and with immigrants? What might be our road ahead in our parishes and communities?

At our next Assembly of Circle Leaders on Saturday, November 14 at 10:00 a.m. on Zoom, we will begin to deal with these questions. We have invited guests with a deep understanding of people and politics in issues like immigration, inequality, racism, and economic health.

1) State Senator Marshall Bullock – Since 2018 Senator Bullock has served as state representative to Allen Park City, Detroit, Lincoln Park, Southgate. He is also Chairperson of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus.

2) Oscar Chacon – Co‐founder and executive director of Alianza Americas. 
Oscar is a frequent national and international spokesperson on migration policies, racism and xenophobia and U.S. Latino community issues.  His organization has brought great people to us -- Sr. Magda and the three Young Leaders Across Borders.

3) U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell – Representative for the 12th Congressional District since 2015. Congresswoman Dingell just won a decisive victory in this election. Much of Debbie's recent work has been focused on ethical issues and social responsibility as they relate to government and business. 

Please register below and a Zoom link will be sent to you.
A Reflection
As we stand on the threshold of our election results, I have found myself looking for wisdom that might form stepping stones forward in the bog of our current political, cultural, and spiritual situation. The day after the election, Bishop John Stowe of Kentucky sent out a letter in which he expresses his wonderment and confusion as to why Americans haven’t made a clearer choice for decency, inclusion, scientific facts, life-affirming policies and for the dismantling of systemic racism. Yet, in turning to prayer what came to him was Thes. 5:18 “…in all circumstances give thanks”.  

It led me to ask, in this moment of time, in what do I give thanks?
  • The horrendous effects of both the pandemic and environmental degradation has also brought to light the truth that on this planet we are one body and what effects one country, affects all countries. I am not alone and we are each other’s keepers.
  • The deeper awakening and to the reality that Black lives do matter, silence is complicity, and racism is very deeply embedded in our culture as a nation.
  • The responsiveness of people all around me who have volunteered to get out the vote and the number of organizations which have texted, messaged, and called urging me to vote because each vote makes a difference.
  • The hopeful "Yes" votes of the SNL Board to approve ambitious goals for the coming year and Circles of Support that continue their commitment to learning, accompanying, and advocating.
  • The willingness of people to respond with such generosity to a bike ride to support a migrant shelter in Mexico. 
  • The creativity of parishes and families in coming together in person and virtually to mourn and celebrate the life of a loved one.
  • The love that I can share with family and friends even though we have deep political differences.

Finally, I am grateful that all of this contradiction and messiness drives me to seek what is essential - greater life and love, rather than hate or indifference.

As we move off the threshold and receive the results of our election, may we be more deeply embedded in the One who can truly lead us beyond our own understandings, and with a courage that we didn’t know we have. As the stakes get higher, it isn't a matter of "go big or go home" it is a matter of knowing there is nowhere to retreat to and acting out of the consciousness that there is this is our home.  

Rosemary Insley
Strangers No Longer
Circles have had difficulty setting up meetings with their legislators during the election season. However we know how important it is that our Circles -- and other members of the parish -- have a relationship with their legislators. Michigan Catholic Conference staffer Paul Stankiewicz helped SNL Board Members and Circle Leaders become aware that the DRIVE SAFE bills (providing for immigrants to have drivers' licenses) need to be reintroduced with the newly elected State Legislature. 

Therefore our Circle meetings with legislators have just become even more important! Our 10 AM Saturday, Nov. 14, Assembly of Circle Leaders will make commitments to hold Circle meetings with their legislators. (Make sure you register above in the first article.)

Our Mother of Perpetual Help’s Peace & Justice team was searching for more ways to raise money for the the Casa Samaritano shelter in Mexico when they received a wonderful offer from a friend of their committee, Joe Olesnavage. He is a biker and has ridden hundreds of miles for charities in the past. He offered to ride 300 miles over 3 days to raise money for Casa Samaritano. The Circle, Alianza Americas, and Joe solicited pledges from friends, family and parish members which could be donated online.

He rode three days at the end of September and we received a daily status from him as well as pictures of the scenery he was enjoying on his rides. We posted his progress each day on our Facebook page and communicated with donors through email as well.
The first day of his ride started on the Macomb Orchard trail in Washington Township. 

Mike and Carmen Kelly were able to have Sr. Louisa, the director of Casa Samaritano, compose a blessing for Joe and we met him at 7:00 a.m. to pray for him and see him off.

What a spiritual start to his adventure!
His three day journey took him through Macomb county to Richmond on the first day; to Ann Arbor, Chelsea and Manchester on day two; and from Ferndale to Cranbrook and back to Detroit on the last day.
But the best part of the story is that he raised over $9000 for Casa Samaritano on his ride!  

The opportunity to follow an effort like Joe’s ride and to see progress each day plus having knowledge of the shelter we were helping seems to have impacted donors so much that they were happy to become involved. We hope to expand this method of fundraising to our other Circles who are looking for ways to make a difference.
Irma Landin-Obregon (St. Anne Detroit) organized a group of SNL members to help get out the vote at the end of October. The volunteers met at the Northwest Activity Center in Detroit during a food distribution session and talked to people about registering to vote and voting early and by mail.  

Irma said, “We spoke to over 100 people and it was great to learn that many had already voted! Plus, there was a steady stream of people coming to vote at the Center! It was truly uplifting!”  
STRUCTURE IS NECESSARY .... for an organization to grow. Twenty three members of our new (and first) Board of Directors participated in a 4-hour Board Workshop on
Sept. 12. Our application for 501c3 IRS status enabled us to be considered for a grant for $25,000 from Catholic Campaign for Human Development. The Board was briefed fully on our history so they can build structures and programs to strengthen our voice and actions for and with our immigrant brothers and sisters. The Board Workshop consisted of presentations and Zoom breakout sessions.

Among the highlights/decisions:

  • Continued the progress of applying for a 501(c)3 IRS status (expected early in the 1st quarter of 2021).

  • The Personnel Committee hired Bill O’Brien as our part-time Executive Director and created the position of part-time Immigrant Circle Organizer. Sr. Martha De La Torre (Sisters of Mary Reparatrix) has been hired and will report to the Executive Director.

  • Approved a budget for the remainder of 2020; approved a budget for 2021; decided to ask all board members to contribute an average of $100 each to the organization (some will ask Circle members to help with the $100.)

  • Moved forward with a fundraising committee to propose multiple fund raising strategies for the Board to review. (Volunteers welcome please) Proposals will be presented to the Board in early 2021. 

  • Put in place an accounting system and put funds in a SNL account managed by a bookkeeper (by January).

  • Affirmed the focus for this quarter on Advocacy -- Circles setting up Zoom meetings with their state representatives. 

It is an exciting time for Strangers No Longer – we will keep you updated!
Our Friend Sister Magda Wants to Talk with YOU

Sister María Magdalena (our "Sr. Magda"), who visited many of us in 2019, will describe the challenges faced by those who are forced to migrate from their homes and what we can do together to address the causes of forced migration. 

CRLN, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America, is hosting a program entitled "Building Bridges and Connecting Communities" on Saturday evening, November 14, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom.

Sr. Magda is the founder and Director of CAFEMIN, a shelter for immigrants located in Mexico City. She also coordinates a network of 135 Catholic-run shelters for Immigrants throughout Mexico. She staffs the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Mexico in their care for immigrants.

Expect an informative and energizing gathering via Zoom that will include music, information about the ongoing work of CRLN and ways you can support and participate in it, as well as the presentation by Sister Magda.  

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Please donate whatever you can to families in crisis. Now, more than ever, our help is needed.
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