Fr. Daniel Belanger, CSV, pastor of St. George Church in Bourbonnais, IL offered his parishioners a rather unique wish list over Christmas: Instead of gifts, he asked that they contribute toiletry items and sleeping bags for immigrants, recently released from detention.
Working with the Chicago-based Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants and one of its ministries — the post-detention accompaniment network — Fr. Belanger posted items the agency seeks for its post-detention support packs.
Many men and women released from immigration detention are released with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, officials with ICDI say. Many times these are the clothes they were wearing when they were taken into custody. Consequently, there is a growing need for support packs that include clothing and hygiene products to help transition out of immigration detention.
St. George parishioners responded in force, supplying sleeping bags and enough items for 45 packs. Fr. Belanger and a group of adults from the parish gathered recently to sort the items for individual packs.
“Once again, the commitment to Christ and the spirit of generosity from the St. George community, comes through with abundance,” says Fr. Belanger.
They were sent to Br. Michael Gosch, CSV, who serves as the Peace, Justice and Integrity of Creation coordinator for the Viatorian Community and on the leadership team of the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants.
“It was a very generous donation,” Br. Gosch said, “and one that is deeply needed.”