CS PHOTOS BY JACLYN LIPPELMANN Washington Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville celebrates a Dec. 12 Mass for Dreamers at St. Peter's Church in Washington
CS PHOTOS BY JACLYN LIPPELMANN Washington Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville celebrates a Dec. 12 Mass for Dreamers at St. Peter's Church in Washington
While celebrating a Mass to pray for Dreamers at St. Peter’s Church on Capitol Hill, Washington Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville encouraged Christians to pray for and advocate on behalf of those young immigrants who face an uncertain future.

Bishop Dorsonville, who invited those gathered to recognize the face of Jesus in others, told them that when they advocate for young undocumented immigrants, they are the voices of people who are too often voiceless, and are the faces of people who are too often invisible to others in society.

Catholics can live their faith by participating in this advocacy and prayer, he told the Catholic Standard.

“You live your faith. It is not something abstract,” said Bishop Dorsonville, adding that when faith comes into reality it pushes people to have an encounter and to accompany people as Pope Francis encourages.

Advent and Christmas in particular are about “embracing the human person as the most valuable gift God has given us,” Bishop Dorsonville said in his homily.

The Mass was celebrated on Dec. 12, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared in 1531 to a peasant named Juan Diego in present-day Mexico. She is the patroness of the Americas, and many Latin American immigrants have a special devotion to her.

Bishop Dorsonville told the Catholic Standard it was important to celebrate this Mass because “those who have the devotion (to our Lady of Guadalupe) are going through tears and pain and anxiety.”

Speaking on behalf of himself and other United States bishops, Bishop Dorsonville told the congregation, “it breaks our heart” to see broken families as a result of an unjust process that takes parents and children away from each other, and to see young people “crying because there is no hope in their lives.”

But in the midst of this heartbreak, Bishop Dorsonville expressed the solidarity that the bishops have with the immigrants’ pain.

“We are united in faith and we do believe God will give us the light, God will give us the strength to continue our journey together,” he said.

Since President Donald Trump announced in September that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would be ending, young immigrants who had been able to attend school and work in this country as a result of the program now fear for their future. When their deferred action expires, which for some people could be as soon as March, these 800,000 young people who were brought to the United States as children will be faced with the possibility of deportation.

The Dec. 12 Mass was held just down the street from the Capitol, where Congress is in session and is being asked to find a solution for these young immigrants. Activists and faith leaders have been pushing Congress to pass the DREAM Act before the end of the year, which would allow DACA recipients to remain in the country and give them a path to citizenship.

At the conclusion of the Mass, a 22-year-old Dreamer named Alejandro Coreas shared a bit about herself with the congregation. She moved to Florida from El Salvador when she was five years old, and her dad managed a small  farm there. Her first memories were from those lush, green fields, and “to me, that is where my story began,” she said.

All her life, she didn’t know what it meant to be undocumented, she said, until her sister came home crying one day because a counselor had told her that college would not be an option for her.

“For 17 years we have called this great nation our home,” she said, noting that she has come to love the value of hard work and the promise of the American dream. “…For 17 years, we have pledged allegiance to the only flag we’ve ever known.”

Coreas said she has endured many “hopeless nights,” but, “it is in these sleepless nights that only my faith gets me through.”

“Every night I pray and I ask God our Lord and Savior to enlighten the hearts of elected officials,” she said.