Bishop invites all in diocese to immigrant, refugee prayer service


By Elizabeth Wong Barnstead/WKC

On Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro will host a bilingual prayer service in support of immigrants and refugees.

This is in connection to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Migration Week held every January. Bishop William F. Medley of the Diocese of Owensboro will preside and offer a homily during the prayer service.

“This prayer service will be an opportunity to call the community together,” said Bishop Medley in an interview with The Western Kentucky Catholic.

“Our nation is not handling this very well,” he said of the United States’ current immigration system, which the USCCB has stated is in need of reforms.

But, “the Church can bring prayer to the dialogue, first and foremost,” he added.

Bishop Medley said he began pursuing the idea of a prayer service as a response to the concerns of people across the spectrum when it comes to immigration – migrants and native-born Americans alike.

“We are trying to pray about a very focal concern,” he said.

Christopher Gutierrez, director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Owensboro, has been working with Bishop Medley to plan the prayer service.

“Immigration is a moral and life issue,” said Gutierrez. “The undocumented immigrant community lives with uncertainty and a constant fear of deportation.”

Gutierrez said Catholics are called to encourage and advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.

He explained that undocumented immigrants include children, who fear losing one or both of their parents to deportation: “It happens too often.”

“By coming together in prayer and solidarity, we are saying: ‘We don’t see you as a burden or stranger,’ rather, as a brother and sister in Christ,” he said. “The Catholic Church stands with you.”

St. Stephen Cathedral is located at 610 Locust St. in Owensboro. To learn more about this event, contact the Diocese of Owensboro’s Communications Office at (270) 683-1545.