DAVENPORT — Ten communities of Midwest Catholic sisters are calling on citizens, President Barack Obama, and federal, state and local politicians to work together to welcome refugees. The sisters are launching a public awareness campaign to make sure potential candidates and voters remember this critical issue when they head to the polls in November.
Sisters are placing billboards urging communities to welcome refugees in Davenport (billboard location at 502 East 4th St. on June 6), Des Moines, Dubuque and Clinton, Iowa; Kieler and Madison, Wis.; and Omaha, Neb. Prayer services near some of the billboard sites will be scheduled at a later date. Postcards also are being sent to federal, state and local government officials nationwide.
The billboards with the message, “I was a stranger a refugee and you welcomed me” will remain posted through June and July. The message, based on the words of Jesus, is taken from the Gospel of Matthew. The postcards read, “As a person of faith, I am writing to ask you to speak out against fear-mongering and inflammatory rhetoric about refugees. I oppose any legislation that would block the resettlement of refugees of any nationality or religion in the United States of America.”
“We declare ourselves welcoming communities in affirmation of our Catholic tradition that holds sacred the dignity of each person,” said Sister Johanna Rickl, CHM, “and we invite other communities and people of faith to join us in becoming refugee welcoming communities through prayer, reflection, education and action. Failure on the part of the federal government to welcome refugees has resulted in states passing legislation that is punitive and harmful to human rights.”
The 10 congregations of Catholic sisters coordinating this public awareness campaign: Congregation of the Humility of Mary, Davenport; Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton; Sisters of St. Benedict, Rock Island, Ill.; the Dominican Sisters, Sinsinawa, Wis.; Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sisters of the Presentation, Sisters of St. Francis and Sisters of the Visitation, all in Dubuque.; Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, La Crosse, Wis.; and Sisters of Mercy, West Midwest Community, Omaha, Neb. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/catholicsisters.