For the past five years, Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, has led young people on a pilgrimage to the border, where they retraced the steps of migrants trying to cross the desert.

Jason Wilhite, left, during a trip to the border in 2018

He calls it a pilgrimage, as together they reflect on the role faith plays in “welcoming the stranger.”

This summer, with COVID-19 restrictions in place, Fr. Corey and Jason Wilhite — a campus minister at Saint Viator High School who had traveled to the border and volunteers at Viator House of Hospitality — adapted the experience to visit with Chicago area advocates and migrants.

Participants pack lunches for day laborers.

They called it an “urban immersion” and accompanied 11 young adults as they met with people active in supporting undocumented workers and asylum-seekers.

“We had the chance to dialogue with a number of local advocates,” Jason says, “to learn about rights of undocumented workers, DACA, and asylum seekers.”

The majority of young people on the  immersion trip were Saint Viator High School seniors and alumni, as well as a couple of college students from nearby St. Raymond de Penafort Parish.

Participants jot down personal plans for future action and advocacy.

While their immersion lasted only two days, and admittedly scratched the surface of the complex immigration system, participants still described it as “powerful.”

“Fr. Corey encouraged us to leave the immersion with more questions than we began with, and I think each of us did that,” Jason says. “Some broken parts of the system definitely left us feeling powerless, but we were encouraged by grassroots efforts to restore human dignity to our sisters and brothers in the immigrant community.”