Catholics around the archdiocese are invited to show solidarity with immigrant and refugee families by joining prayer vigils at St. James Cathedral and seven parish churches on Thursday, August 8.
The vigils are intended to “get the whole Catholic community together to pray for hearts to be softened, to pray for compassion instead of fear and rhetoric, and to pray for the Gospel to unfold,” said Joe Cotton, director of pastoral care for the Archdiocese of Seattle.
Recent immigration policies, including the possibility of increased raids to arrest undocumented immigrants, have spiked fear in the immigrant community, Cotton said. The people being threatened are “the very people in our pews … our own community members,” he noted.
Hosting the prayer vigils “signals to our Catholic community in a very visible way that we recognize you are in the line of fire and something awful is happening to you,” Cotton said. “We want to show up and be there with you in the midst of it.”
Many Catholics in the archdiocese will be able to find a vigil closer to home than the cathedral — vigils will be held in Aberdeen, Bellevue, Chehalis, Federal Way, Mount Vernon, Tacoma and Vancouver (see box for times).
Organizers at each parish can refer to a liturgy guide developed especially for the vigils by the liturgy staff at St. James Cathedral, Cotton said. Available in English and Spanish, the guide provides prayers and suggestions for homilies and music.
The vigils are a continuation of the archdiocese’s recent efforts to engage local Catholics in concern and action for immigrants and refugees coming to the U.S. Last spring’s Walking and Witnessing pilgrimage “activated 70 of our parishes, and over 1,000 people participated,” Cotton said. That was followed by the archdiocese’s immigration summit, which drew a couple hundred people.
“This is a way to keep that momentum going,” Cotton said of the vigils. “Our people are still in distress. Our immigrant folks, they’re constantly under the gun. We can’t get complacent on this.”
“The power of prayer makes a tangible difference,” he added.
Attend a vigil
Vigils are being held August 8 in these communities:
Aberdeen: St. Mary, 6 p.m.
Bellevue: St. Louise de Marillac, 7 p.m.
Chehalis: St. Joseph, 7 p.m.
Federal Way: St. Vincent de Paul, 6 p.m.
Mount Vernon: Immaculate Conception, 7 p.m.
Seattle: St. James Cathedral, 5:30 p.m.
Tacoma: Sacred Heart, 7 p.m. (Spanish Mass)
Vancouver: St. Joseph, 5:30 p.m.
Catholic resources on the refugee crisis
• Pope Francis has written extensively on the refugee crisis
• Washington bishops’ statement on the immigration crisis
• U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ migration and refugee services
• Justice for Immigrants (sponsored by the USCCB)
• Washington State Catholic Conference immigration support