There are a lot of loving and passionate people in our parish communities doing truly great things to help people in need—and in all kinds of different ways. Take, for example, the wonderful discussions from a recent Parish Liaison Network meeting, highlighting how Arlington Catholic Charities and parishes in the Diocese of Arlington are responding to the Church’s call for human dignity by welcoming the stranger. They are truly serving the immigrant community.
During the meeting, Catholic Charities Director of Hogar Immigrant Services, Brooke Hammond Perez, talked about the extensive programs offered. Founded in 1981, Hogar Immigrant services provides comprehensive educational and legal services to a vulnerable population.
- individual legal consultation,
- naturalization classes and assistance with the naturalization application process through naturalization workshops, and
- English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes.
The goal of these programs is to help immigrants achieve self-sufficiency and participate fully in the greater community.
Each year, thousands of immigrants are served, thanks to the continued generosity of donors, through the dedicated service of our staff, and hundreds of dedicated volunteers.
It is only possible to provide these greatly needed services through partnerships with diocesan parishes. A large number of our ESOL classes are held at parishes. You can find us teaching at our Manassas Campus, at St Leo the Great, St. James, Queen of Apostles, Holy Family, Christ the Redeemer, Our Lady of Angels, and St Mark.
The monthly naturalization workshops are also held at parishes and many of our volunteers are parishioners. Our last Citizenship Workshop was held at Good Shepherd Catholic Church.
Hogar Immigrant Services also provides educational workshops and discussions. The staff recently held training on the proposed Executive Action on Immigration at Holy Family Catholic Church.
Catholic Charities Hogar Immigrant Services Supervising Attorney, Stacy Jones, provided an update on the work that is being done to help the recent influx of unaccompanied children to the United States. She discussed the terrible circumstances that these children face in their home countries and why they come in the U.S. She also explained how Hogar Immigrant Services is providing these children legal immigration services.
In addition the extensive work that Hogar Immigrant Services provides, a number of Catholic Charities programs also work with the immigrant community. Immigrants access our emergency services and food distribution programs, our adoption and pregnancy services, migration and refugee services, car ministry, and prison ministry. In addition, over 30 nationalities are represented daily at our St. Martin de Porres Senior Center.
Jessica Tappel, Bilingual Counselor at the Catholic Charities Family Services program, has her office at Holy Family Catholic Church. She talked about the challenges that many immigrant families confront living in the U.S. These challenges are both cultural and financial. Jessica’s main role, though is to address the very trying psychological and often traumatic stress that immigrant families face. In addition, she is bilingual, fluent in both English and Spanish.
Many immigrants lack family support as their loved ones are back home. They face considerable stress due to language barriers and a lack of knowledge about their basic legal rights. Many immigrants work long hours, or more than one job to make ends meet. In her work, Jessica meets with both individuals and families to help them overcome some of these serious issues.
Tappel’s services, as with all of the rest of our Catholic Charities Hogar Services for immigrants are not just support services, they are critical services to allow them to reach their goal of self reliance and afford us the opportunity to reawaken in them their God given dignity.
To learn more about the work Hogar Immigrant Services is providing and to find out how you can help, visit the Hogar website or contact the office at (703) 534-9805.
Images courtesy of Catholic Charities USA