May: Migration

Listen as a podcast!

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, for 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.

Panelists: Lesly Gonzalez-Barragan, Denise LaRock, DC, Joann Mark, ASC – Learn more about our panelists below.
Host: Charish Badzinski

  1. Seek out ways to support those who migrate.
  2. Find local new immigrants through parishes and Catholic Charities and support those in need.
  3. Welcome migrants at your comfort and capability. There are always services to donate to: non-profits, law offices, consulates, or your own profession etc. Migrants don’t stop being migrants after entering the country. View the neighbors at your own parishes with the eyes of Christ.

American Immigration Council
The American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by shaping how America thinks about and acts towards immigrants and immigration and by working toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring.

Casa Marianella
Casa Marianella welcomes displaced immigrants and promotes self-sufficiency by providing shelter and support services.Their ultimate vision is that all immigrants arriving in Austin will have safe housing and access to the services they need to be successful.

Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)
The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., has been on the cutting edge of training nonprofit immigration legal service providers to provide affordable, quality legal representation to immigrants since its founding in 1988. Today the network includes more than 380 nonprofit organizations in 49 states.

Justice for Immigrants
In 2004, the Catholic bishops of the United States committed to immigration reform as a priority of the U.S. Catholic Church, and to creating a culture of welcome in which all migrants are treated with respect and dignity. A diverse group of Catholic organizations with national networks joined the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Justice for Immigrants Campaign (JFI) in an effort to unite and mobilize a growing network of Catholic institutions, individuals, and other persons of goodwill in support of immigration reform.

La Posada Providencia
La Posada Providencia strives to satisfy the basic subsistence needs of poor immigrants, asylees and asylum seekers in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and to promote their successful integration into U. S. society.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
For 80 years, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) has offered welcome and hope to more than half a million refugees. Since 1939, LIRS has transformed lives, with the support of people like you, to welcome the most vulnerable to the United States — from sea to shining sea. Together we have supported, equipped and empowered these new Americans, while advocating for policy that protects all of God’s children.

Witness at the Border
The Witness project began in Tornillo TX in 2018. Then Homestead FL in 2019. Our 65-day long vigil in Brownsville TX in 2020 was suspended due to Covid-19. We track ICE Air flights, which began with watching at the Brownsville airport. See our posts detailing expulsions, deportations, and prisoner transfers in Death Flights. Follow other witnessing activity in Bearing Witness, as we continue the “subversive act of seeing.”

USCCB Immigrant & Refugee Foster Care Program
The USCCB/MRS Foster Care team is fortunate to work with foster care programs across the nation who are dedicated to finding foster families who can provide a safe environment and a loving home to youth in need.

Meet Our Panelists

Lesly Gonzalez-Barragan
Activist, Advocate
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
Sister, Teacher
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
Sister, Advocate
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.

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