Through this blog, I have the opportunity not only to share my voice, but also to lift up the voices of others standing for welcome at LIRS and throughout the nation. Today, on the 5 year anniversary of the Postville raid, I am honored to share with you the reflections of Sister McCauley of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM). She was the Pastoral Administrator for St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Postville, Iowa at the time of the raid, and was in many ways the central figure in the community’s response. I hope that you will take a moment to read her words and remember the tragedy of Postville, but also recognize the need to move forward and work towards justice in our immigration system.
Reflection: Mary McCauley, BVM
In our reading from the Book of Deuteronomy we heard these words…
Remember that you were a slave in Egypt
and the Lord your God redeemed you from there.
For me the compelling word in this brief verse is REMEMBER.
As I recall May 12, 2008 hundreds of memories fill my mind and heart. Some warm my heart, some break my heart, some challenge my heart. One that I vividly recall from that afternoon is my standing in the simple and unadorned dining room of St. Bridget Rectory, which soon became command central for this momentous and historical event, and reading a statement from Immigration Customs Enforcement or ICE.
It was their attempt to explain what had taken place at 10:00 a.m at Agriprocessors on that fateful morning. The print was small, the words were precise. I skimmed the paper hoping to make sense out of what was going on around me. I read one line after another and then my eyes fell upon these words:
An immigration raid was conducted at Agriprocessors
in Postville, Iowa in order to uphold the integrity of the law….
After seeing these words I read no further. I had read enough.
I looked around and saw children searching for parents….wives searching for husbands. I saw faces burdened with fear. It was at that moment that my heart was stirred and my conscience provoked. There was not a doubt in my mind that while our government claimed to uphold the integrity of the law they had totally ignored the integrity of the person…the integrity of the family… the integrity of a community, as well as the integrity of the values for which our country stands.
It is because of our profound respect and love for every person affected by the Postville raid and our deep desire to uphold the values of our country that we call one another, not only to remember but also to reconcile. Reconciliation is about making amends, it is about reaching out to others, it is about healing relationships. This anniversary gives us an opportunity to reach out to our government, to employers who through greed and unscrupulous behavior took advantage of our undocumented workers, to our neighbors who fear the stranger, to our legislators who have been slow to rewrite our broken and inhumane laws and to call for reconciliation and reform.
This is our time to say to one another: let us move on, let us respect and honor the dignity of all persons, let us recognize that our laws have only one purpose and that is to ensure the common good. This is our time to restore the integrity of the law, the integrity of the family, the integrity of our American values, the integrity of our country.
Our memories may sadden us but they will never paralyze us. Our memories, our consciences, our integrity, our respect for the dignity of all persons, call us unabashedly to do all that we can to……
Turn the Tragedy of Postville into a Victory for Justice.