At the end of Sunday Mass at rural St. George Parish in Bourbonnais, children come up to the altar to empty their piggy banks. While the scene is heartwarming, it makes an impact.

Each week during Lent, the children have saved their spare change to donate to the Viator House of Hospitality, so that other children seeking asylum in the United States may have a compassionate place to stay while their case proceeds in court.

This new ministry is sponsored soley by the Viatorian Community.

The residence is located in the Chicago area and is intended to provide compassionate accompaniment of young adult male undocumented immigrants, who have been released from federal detention and are seeking asylum.

Fr. Dan Belanger, CSV, pastor helps sort donations to the Viator House of Hospitality

“I think when people hear that children who cannot be reunited with family or stay with an agency, end up going to adult detention — they’re moved to help,” says Br. Michael Gosch, CSV, who co-directs the Viator House of Hospitality with Fr. Corey Brost, CSV.

Scott Austin, pastoral associate at St. George, expects money saved by parish children to add up to $1,500 by Easter. What’s more, parish families have filled multiple boxes with towels, sheets, T-shirts and toiletries for the young residents.

Br. Gosch adds that other parishes have held collection drives for the new ministry, including St. Viator Parish in Chicago, which held a hygiene drive to collect items for the residents.

“We’re overwhelmed by the numbers of volunteers — who can’t believe there are so many undocumented children,” Br. Gosch says. “We’ve received financial donations as well. We’re so grateful that it has touched so many people.”

Fr. Dan Belanger, CSV, leads more than 300 families at St. George

At St. George, parishioners wanted to support a Viatorian ministry, but they also were moved to help young people at risk of being deported.

“We’re a small parish community, but we’re part of a larger community in the Kankakee Valley — and with the Viatorians,” Austin says. “Every Lent, we look for ways to give of ourselves. In the gospels, we learn about extending ourselves. This is something children can do — and make a difference.”