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Have a Heart Campaign

Sr. Rose Mary Sullivan, CND, Sr. Marilyn Medinger, CND

When the idea for the Have a Heart Campaign began in November, I had no idea of how appropriate it would be. In the face of developing anti-immigrant policies and practices, I think we are called to take a stand on behalf of compassion and love. This Campaign provides a simple, concrete way to do that. I hope you will spread the word and invite as broad participation as possible. Thank you.

Congregation of Notre-Dame – HAVE A HEART” Campaign

February 14- March 17. In the spirit of our latest Congregation of Notre-Dame Orientations we invite you to “be open to the diversity of generations, cultures, attitudes and structures” and to “go to the peripheries” by being part of the “HAVE A HEART Campaign.” Today, our detention centers are certainly part of the peripheries. In this campaign, we will be collaborating with First Friends, an advocacy group in Kearney, NJ for those in detention in the NY Metro area. Between Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day we encourage you to join the Campaign by being involved yourself and by finding others to join with you/us.

Most often, those in detention facilities are hard-working people who have come to our country for a chance at a better life for themselves and for their families. Seldom are they criminals. Did you know that when people are in detention it is like being in jail, only worse?

  • they do not have a right to make a phone call
  • they have no right to a court appointed lawyer
  • there is no jury when they go to court, only a judge
  • As a result families do not always know where their loved ones have been taken.
  • Parents or spouses cannot find children and children do not know where their parents are being held. This happens regardless of a person’s age or country of origin.

As part of a pastoral care visit to a detention center Sr. Marilyn encountered a man from Kazakhstan who had been in the USA long enough to start two businesses on which he paid taxes. He was picked up for a minor traffic violation. Prior to being detained he called his mother in Kazakhstan twice a week. He is an only child and his mother is a widow. He asked Sr. Marilyn if she could call his mother to let her know where he was. He told her that his mother only spoke Russian. Sr. Marilyn was able to find a Russian speaker willing to make the call. Needless to say, his mother was greatly relieved to learn that her son was alive and well. Unfortunately situations like this are not unusual.

Perhaps you question what you can possibly do for these detained people. One thing we can all do is pray. The beautiful Prayer Service, prepared by Sr. Joan Mahoney and Associate R. Smith was created for the “HAVE A HEART Campaign”. We encourage you to pray it in a group if possible. Another action we can do is to call State and Congressional Leaders to advocate for a just and compassionate Immigration Policy.

The main goal of the “HAVE A HEART Campaign” is to purchase materials which will allow those in the NY Metro area detention facilities to communicate with their family and friends. Access to detention facilities is greatly limited. Thanks to First Friends, we have access and the ability to provide useful items which will make a great deal of difference to the detainees who will benefit from your compassionate response. Our best information is that there are 2,000 persons detained in these facilities.

As a contributor to the “HAVE A HEART Campaign”, you can:

  • Provide money for a jail phone card - $30.00 - these have to be purchased in the Detention Facility.
  • Provide funds to purchase pocket folders, plain and pre-stamped envelopes, loose-leaf paper, greeting cards such as Birthday, Get Well, Thinking of You and blank note cards.

First Friends’ previous experience has shown these to be practical materials to promote communication. A donation in any amount is welcome.

A personal touch could be a note you write to encourage these people and to let them know someone is thinking of them and praying for them.

Notes could be something like this:

Dear Friend, I wanted to write and let you know that you are not forgotten. Please remember that many people are praying for you and your family. We know that being separated from them is difficult. Please stay strong and keep the faith. Sincerely, (first name only)

Notes to detainees as well as your contributions should be sent to: Sr. Rose Mary Sullivan, 30 Highfield Rd, Wilton, CT 06897.

If your contribution is a check, please make checks payable: Congregation of Notre Dame and please write Have A Heart” on the memo line.

Besides your personal participation in this Campaign we hope you will invite your ministry partners, family and friends to help us reach as many detainees as possible.


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