Brockton parishioners join in vigil for immigration reform

BROCKTON — Members of St. Patrick Parish showed their support for immigration reform by taking part in a vigil organized by the Brockton Interfaith Community. The event was one of many held around the state and around the country to bring attention to the issue May 1.

“We went down to City Hall yesterday for a peaceful vigil regarding immigration issues,” said Jeanne Lafond, pastoral associate at the parish.

St. Patrick’s has a large immigrant community, consisting mostly of people from Mexico and Central and South America, she said.

“Probably about half our parish are Spanish-speakers or from Spanish-speaking families. Some of them have been here many generations, and there are new immigrants,” she said.

The parish has been involved in helping new immigrants reach services they could not otherwise obtain including English classes, health care and information on gaining citizenship.

“We host in our church the Catholic Charities program for beginning English lessons. Catholic Charities also offers some citizenship classes and literacy classes. We’ve been happy to host that,” she said. “We have sometimes invited somebody from Catholic Charities to offer a conference or a talk on immigration law.”

“The two local hospitals in our area have also come in to be able to offer health services to those who might not be aware of what’s out there,” Lafond added. “I have personally accompanied some new immigrants to help them get their children enrolled in school or introduce them to the neighborhood health center.”

The community has also provided immigrants, new and old alike, with Masses and other religious activities in Spanish. Not only does that help new immigrants with their transition into a different culture, but it also allows the immigrants to pass their heritage onto their children, she said.

“We’re very much a bilingual community,” she said. “For the Latino community, it’s very important for them to be able to express their faith in their native language.”