On the eve of International Migrants’ Day, Archbishop José Gomez blessed more than 200 Dolores Mission parishioners who have committed to a 24-hour fast for immigration reform.

The Dec. 17 early evening event in Boyle Heights was part of the annual parish Posada, a neighborhood Christmas procession that recounts in prayers and songs Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem before the birth of Jesus.

The Posada began at Dolores Mission where parishioners committed to the fast in solidarity with a group of faith, immigrant rights and labor leaders who started a public fast last month in Washington, D.C., urging Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Parishioners re-enacted the journey of Mary and Joseph through a procession to the nearby Pico Gardens housing project and Casa Ita Ford, the Jesuit Volunteer Corps house, where they heard testimonies about modern immigrant issues. They were turned away, as were Joseph and Mary in their search for shelter.

“We remember in this posada that Jesus and his family did not find welcome on that first Christmas night,” said Archbishop Gomez. “This is the reality that too many immigrant families from Mexico and everywhere else still face today in the United States.”

 “The parallels between the Holy Family seeking safety to give birth to Jesus and the plight of immigrant families in this country who want desperately to remain united and safe are something we cannot ignore,” said Maria Elena Durazo, AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer and parishioner of Dolores Mission. “I am proud to stand with Archbishop Gomez once again just as we did on November 26 when we announced a fast for immigration reform.”

The group returned to Dolores Mission plaza where the Posada concluded with in a small celebration at the Church, which serves as a 365-day per year shelter for homeless men and long-time sanctuary for immigrants, giving parishioners posada, or lodging.

 “Our little church serves as a symbol for the welcome we wish our Church and country to be for immigrants,” said Jesuit Father Scott Santarosa, pastor. “This posada and fast is a reminder of God’s call to each of us to welcome all our brothers and sisters.”