The Parish of Saint Miriam, a Sanctuary Parish.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
This introduction describes where Saint Miriam has accepted the call of God to become a Sanctuary Parish within our holy Catholic Church. As such, Saint Miriam will open its doors and hearts to a vigilant refugee ministry and sanctuary ministry. Our goals in offering this introductory writing, and accepting this designation within the church, are to make sure that all of us have the same information, and that all are invited to participate in the life of God’s saving power Our fervent prayer is that each of us will hear the words, “come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:34-35), as well as to head the words of our Serphaic Father, St. Francis, whom we follow as a Franciscan Parish and Friary, ”
Christians have been involved with “sanctuary” for centuries. In the last three decades the so-called “ Sanctuary Movement” was reborn through Christians assisting Central Americans. In short, we can think of “sanctuary” whenever a religious community provides safe space, care, shield, food, and other needed accommodations to those who are victims of what some believe to be unjust laws or persecution. As such, when a parish accepts the designation as a Sanctuary Parish, we affirm our willingness to provide safe sanctuary to anyone in need, regardless of their immigration or religious status.
The Parish of Saint Miriam, a Sanctuary Parish. What does this mean?
At its May meeting in 2017, the Parish Board of Directors (the parish’s governing board) voted to accept the Parish of Saint Miriam as a “Sanctuary Parish.” The Board took this action upon recommendation from the mission and outreach committee, as well as from the desires of our pastor that we continue to ‘walk the talk’ and affirm our worldview of safe passage for all who come to us. This designation means that we’re committed to providing a variety of support, including, but not limited to, physical sanctuary at Saint Miriam to people who are threatened with deportation or unlawful incarceration or detainment solely based on their nation of origin or immigration status. In making this designation, our Board is saying that we’re going to be in alliance with people who are the most vulnerable.
Can our leaders—lay and ordained—face legal consequences for sanctuary ministry?
It is illegal to interfere with federal laws. However, there is no precedent for state or federal law enforcement agencies to target, prosecute, or fine houses of worship, or leaders thereof who have offered sanctuary and we believe it is in keeping with the strength of our parish life and the work of the ministry of Jesus Christ.
What can you do?
You can continue to pray for us, give generously to our missional support us with prayers and the willingness to help in person, when the need arises.
What will Saint Miriam do?
We will continue to maintain and believe God is the giver of this moment with sanctuary parishes and churches of all kinds, and if called upon, we are willing to provide refugee ministry and accommodation.
A Closing Note from Our Pastor.
I am ready to step boldly on a firm foundation, looking only to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. This new chapter at the Parish of Saint Miriam will reveal old values even as it will equip us to claim new truths, and to discover again the Holy Spirit, who broods over the world like a mother over her children. In this holy Easter Season of lengthening days, we are invited to increase our capacity to listen, and to respond with courage and compassion to the weakest among us.
Let’s walk this pathway together.
I am faithfully in Christ your friend,
Monsignor James St. George, Pastor