I was so pleased to read a recent Chicago Tribune feature on two of my spiritual heroes: Sister JoAnn Persch and Sister Pat Murphy of the Sisters of Mercy. Those of you who have participated in the regular vigil at the Broadview immigrant detention center know them well as the founders and central driving presence of this decade-old mainstay in the Chicago immigrant justice organizing community.
I've known and worked alongside Sister Pat and Sister Jo for many years now, and am consistently inspired by their example of deep faith, abiding compassion and dogged persistence. For decades now they have worked together in Chicago to minister to immigrants, refugees, older persons, and homeless families – and to advocate for their basic rights. In 2008, they helped to spearhead an intense lobbying drive to pass historic legislation that allows all immigrant detainees held in Illinois jails the same access to clergy as those imprisoned for other crimes. As a result, many professional and lay ministers can now serve the pastoral needs of undocumented immigrants who would otherwise be locked away and forgotten by everyone but their families.
Tzedek members Gonzalo and Tina Escobar and Wendy and Brian Carson have long been working alongside Sisters Pat and Jo and can attest to their rock steady spiritual leadership on this issue which has become so central and critical for our nation. I can't put it better than Sister Pat, as she puts it in the Tribune article:
We have a special saying: "We go respectfully and peacefully, but we never take no for an answer."
Sister Pat and Sister Jo are truly my spiritual teachers and I am so grateful to know and work alongside them. I know of few others who model compassion and justice with such decency and grace.
Rabbi Brant Rosen