We are aware of attitudes and policies concerning immigration that harm the communities in which we live and minister. We believe that we have spheres of influence that can transform this reality so we welcome the stranger and work toward systemic change. Chapter 2011 Direction Statement


Statement on Immigration

We, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood, NY and our Associates who share a common history with immigrant people drawn to a new land; and who choose a way of life that embraces care for vulnerable people, are guided in our decisions by the teaching of the Gospel, the Charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph and the traditions of Catholic Social Teaching.

We know there is widespread displacement of men, women and children from their homelands by persecution, oppression, climate change, and slavery, and we believe that fundamental justice cannot be served without attending to their good as well as our own. In the absence of a united moral and practical response to increased migration our nation is increasingly divided socially and politically.

Therefore, we commit ourselves to pursue the following goals on behalf of our immigrant neighbors and to take the steps needed to implement them:

  • To recognize the presence of Jesus in all displaced persons and make a pastoral response to the issue of immigration.
  • To ensure that our institutions and ministries are models of welcome and inclusion of immigrants regardless of their racial, ethnic or religious affiliation.
  • To work with others to preserve family unity and protect immigrants from practices that separate families.
  • To support those who create safe space and to give assistance with the goods and services that immigrants need for their security.
  • To align with those who work to secure the safety of unaccompanied children and other refugees as a universal right and priority.
  • To seek the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform that guarantees a path to citizenship for those who pursue it.
  • To collaborate with religious and civic organizations in political action that promotes the educational, social and political welfare of all immigrants with special attention to those brought here as children.
  • To support international efforts to end conflicts which force people to leave their homeland.

As Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood and our Associates, we will be present to people in their search for inclusion in our communities, and intentionally recognize immigrant individuals with whom we interact on a daily basis. We will engage in personal and shared prayer and in contemplative dialogue that can convert us in mind and heart and can affirm our decisions as the fruit of the Spirit. We will respond with courage and fidelity whenever these require our sacrifice on behalf of others.

Rosalie Carven, CSJ at USCCB on Immigration

Rosalie Carven, CSJ at USCCB Conference on Immigration


We, the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, compelled by the Gospel and by our heritage to be responsive to the “dear neighbor” without distinction, call on President Bush and the 2007-08 Congress to enact immigration policy that is both just and comprehensive. We believe that this policy must include:

  • a pathway to lawful permanent residence and citizenship
  • a process to reduce the backlog of family visas in order to ensure family unity and reunification
  • a guestworker program that ensures labor protections and equitable wages
  • a border security and enforcement policy that is humane
  • a process whereby students who are children of undocumented families can earn a college degree and become gainfully employed. We must remember that these children are here through no fault of their own; and their only desire is to become a citizen of the nation in which they have grown up.

In our faith response to welcome the stranger among us, we urge Congress and the Administration to work for an immigration system that respects the dignity of every person. Our Catholic tradition emphasizes that all persons, regardless of their legal status, possess inherent human dignity that should be respected. The basic human rights of persons who are undocumented need to be respected in all government policies.

We, 14,000 Catholic Sisters and associates, in over 50 countries recognize that no immigration policy will be complete without addressing the root causes of migration. Our sisters in other countries witness conditions of poverty, violent conflict, and environmental destruction that are the impetus for migration. We have seen and know that poverty causes people to do whatever is necessary for themselves and their families to survive. The economic injustices that exist in the developing countries must be a focus of concern in addressing the immigration issue.

Trade agreements which favor corporations increase poverty in developing countries. These agreements eliminate tariffs that provide revenue for poor governments. Imported U.S. subsidized crops put farmers in poor countries out of business. Poverty around the world is forcing an exodus of peoples from their homelands in order to live. By signing on to the Millennium Development Goals, the United States has pledged to work toward eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. An immigration policy that is humane and compassionate must address these root causes of migration.

The Gospel message is clear: we are called to share our resources and gifts with our brothers and sisters in need! As Sisters of St. Joseph, we take seriously our call to welcome the stranger as our brothers and sisters. As citizens, we urge President Bush and the 2007-08 Congress to enact an immigration policy that is reflective of the fundamental values of justice and dignity.


In response to the failure of Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the summer of 2007, the executive directors of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) said in a joint statement: “The status quo is morally unacceptable, as millions of immigrants are relegated again to the shadows in our nation.”

The passage of the recent draconian enforcement-only legislation in the state of Arizona and the introduction by Senators Schumer and others of a “Conceptual Proposal for Immigration Reform” once again bring to the fore the absolute necessity for Congress to act soon and comprehensively to fix our broken immigration system. As we said in our 2007 statement, a just and humane approach to immigration reform must include a path to citizenship, family reunification and protection of workers’ rights.

Our Catholic faith and the missions of many of our Religious Institutes emphasize the welcoming of strangers and taking the side of those who are marginalized by society. These religious values impel us to speak for a better immigration policy.

Our present system of immigration laws is unsustainable, and the need for reform is urgent. Clearly the United States has the right to control its borders, but we are a welcoming people, and hospitality has always been a core Gospel value. We need an immigration reform that expresses our deepest values and calls forth the best that is in us.

Statement of Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, chairman of the Committee on Migration of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

For over fifty years, USCCB Migration & Refugee Services has helped create a world where immigrants, migrants, refugees, and people on the move are treated with dignity, respect, welcome, and belonging. For over fifty years, Migration & Refugee Services has welcomed the newcomer —the immigrant—to this great country and helped them get on their feet, facilitating access to education, healthcare, language assistance, employment, and much more. The Court’s decision today does not change that.

That said, the decision is a huge disappointment; it means millions of families will continue to live in fear of deportation and without the immediate ability to improve their lives through education and good jobs. However, in the wake of this opinion, we must also focus on the bigger picture: comprehensive immigration reform is necessary to fix our broken system. We need to bring people out of the shadows. We should not separate families. While today’s decision is a setback, we must not lose hope that reform is possible. It is both necessary and possible to safeguard our immigration system in a humane manner.

People do not cease to be our brothers and sisters just because they have an irregular immigration status. No matter how they got here, we cannot lose sight of their humanity — without losing our own. Let us pray for all of our immigrant brothers and sisters today. 


Immigration Prayer

O Holy God, Heart of heaven and earth, praised be your holy name. Your daughters and sons, from all peoples of the world, regardless of borders, praise you.

We praise you and give you thanks because you have placed in our hands the immigrant pilgrims who make the earth flourish and produce to bring food to the table of the rich and poor alike.

We praise you and give you thanks because you walk always with those who cross borders in search of well-being, doing their part in building the world you entrusted to us. On our way, we are mindful of your Presence in the promise of Abraham and in the liberation of your people, Israel.

We praise you and give you thanks for your blessings on all immigrants, on those who cross all borders in the United States.

And you, O Lady of Guadalupe, empress of the Americas, be always our protector and intercessor for reconciliation and the building of equality and peace. Amen.

    Nourished by prayer, supported by community and energized by ministry, we are constantly addressing the needs of these times.