How can we show compassion without borders and love without boundaries? What does it take to navigate legal systems to become a citizen of a different country? What are the root causes of inequity for those who migrate? Join migration experts Lesly Gonzalez-Barragan, Sister Denise LaRock, DC and Sister JoAnn Mark, ASC, on May 12 at 3 p.m. (Central) during our “Exploring Intersections: Catholic Sisters on Racism, Migration, and Climate” discussion. Registration is free and open to the public as we provide a forum for constructive conversation on these important issues.
May 12, 2021
3:00 PM (CST)
National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry
Lesly Gonzalez-Barragan is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and theology from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University.
Born and raised in an immigrant community, she has encountered the effects of migration firsthand among loved ones and community members. Her background and experiences have influenced her interest in faith-based social justice work, particularly working with migrant and marginalized communities—especially youth and young adults.
Lesly has worked at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, and the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota. All her experiences involve work with Latino communities and the marginalized, where migration is a constant topic and issue. She currently works in the Diversity and Inclusion Department of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry in Washington, D.C.
Denise LaRock, DC
Daughters of Charity
Sister Denise LaRock, currently a member of the Daughters of Charity leadership team, most recently served in San Antonio, Texas, where her ministry was to make newcomers who arrived from the border feel welcomed.
A Baltimore native, Sister Denise spent a year improving her Spanish while living in Miami, Florida, with Daughters from the Caribbean Province. Once in San Antonio and equipped with Immigration and Customs and Enforcement (ICE) clearance, she began her ministry as part of the Interfaith Coalition Commission, greeting weary–and fearful–asylum seekers from Central America. During her daily presence at the city’s bus station, she assisted with interpretation, bus schedules and tickets while handing out backpacks filled with essentials and providing assurance that the asylum seekers were now in good hands.
A Daughter of Charity for 30 years, Sister Denise has ministered as a grade-school teacher; in a tutoring program for Hispanic and at-risk students in Macon, Georgia; and as the community’s vocation director.
Joann Mark, ASC
Adorers of the Blood of Christ
Sister JoAnn Mark, a Nebraska native, spent most of her ministry in higher education, primarily at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas, and Brescia College in Owensboro, Kentucky. She taught college math and science and served as academic dean and vice president. She has been to 12 countries, and taught English in Bucharest, Romania, and Tanzania, East Africa, and was active in her congregation’s leadership locally and as a delegate to Rome.
Her experiences inspired a keen interest in social justice, especially with minorities and asylum seekers. In 2015, she left Wichita to direct Partnership for Global Justice, a nonprofit in New York City, which took her to the United Nations. In 2018, she initiated a program in her community to open a vacant wing in the Adorers’ convent to families of asylum seekers, primarily from the Congo. She prepared their legal papers for asylum applications and work permits, accompanied them to immigration court, and tutored and taught their children.