On Tuesday, July 18, Bishop Mark Seitz of the Diocese of El Paso promulgated a pastoral letter on immigration at Sacred Heart Church, the Jesuit parish in El Paso. This letter is part of a series of actions which the bishop is undertaking in response to the Trump administration's and Texas state government's anti-immigrant stance and policies.
The title of Bishop Seitz's pastoral letter is "Sorrow and Mourning Flee Away," a segment of Isaiah 35:10.
An upcoming action will be three conferences on Catholic Social Teaching, focusing on immigration. Fr. Fred Kammer, SJ, director of Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University New Orleans, will be the presenter.
Bishop Seitz formed a committee of six priests to discern and implement actions related to immigrants on behalf of the diocese. It was based on this committee's recommendation that Bishop Seitz drafted the pastoral letter and invite Fr. Kammer to make presentations on Catholic Social Thought.
Guests at the event included immigrant families. At the breakfast, a Sacred Heart parishioner who grew up in the barrio shared her family's painful story that includes family separation. She was accompanied by her children and her mother and a sister.
The bishop signed the pastoral letter as part of a press conference inside the church, with media, priests, area leaders and others who were invited to the event. The committee and their guests stood behind the bishop during his presentation and signing. Several leaders in the El Paso community, i.e., the president of UTEP, the Consul General of the Mexican Consulate in El Paso, the editor of the El Paso Times, as well as several directors of diocesan ministries in the area of migration, received a signed copy from the Bishop.
Afterwards, the guests were invited into the Padre Pinto Plaza for some refreshments. At the plaza, Bishop Seitz and others were interviewed by the media.The pastoral letter can be read on the diocese's website, elpasodiocese.org.
Father Rafael Garcia, SJ, of the U.S. Central and Southern Province serves as associate pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in El Paso, Texas.