Recently, Mission and Ministry welcomed Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, to campus as the latest speaker in the Dahlgren Chapel Sacred Lecture Series.
Markham’s talk, Sharing the Journey with Immigrants: A Reflection on Human Goodness centered on her personal experience as well as Catholic Charities USA’s efforts to advocate for immigrants and refugees seeking a new life in the United States.
Catholic Charities’ main role in the immigration process is to help new immigrants gain access to the United States and to find homes for new immigrants. Markham emphasized the difficulty of the process in her talk, saying, “This is a long, long process. Currently, it is estimated that less than 10 percent of those arriving legally through the southern border asking for asylum will be granted asylum. Some of this is because of redefining what is considered asylum.”
To highlight some of the circumstances immigrants and asylum-seekers face, Markham told the story of two brothers from Honduras, Carlos and Edwin. Carlos had been shot in the back and was paralyzed. Desperate to escape the gang violence, Edwin pushed his brother in a wheelchair until they reached the U.S. border a year after setting out. Terrified that they would be sent back to Honduras, Catholic Charities helped them find a temporary home in Chicago until they were relocated to a permanent home in Canada.
“This is the incredible true story of what I refer to as transcontinental human goodness,” said Markham. After facing the threat of being deported, as well as the many other hardships that tormented the brothers throughout their journey, they were finally able to find safety.
“I wanted to focus on a different narrative, one that speaks to the kindness of people across the continent of North America,” she added.
You can watch Sister Markham’s talk on YouTube.
If you’re interested in the work of Catholic Charities USA or in volunteering, please consult their website.
The Dahlgren Sacred Lecture series is based on the Jesuit sacred lectures, a Jesuit tradition that historically aimed to educate and inspire listeners to grow in their own faith.
— Dustin Hartuv is a freshman at Georgetown and a staff writer for Campus Ministry.