Parishioners across Southern California are praying and preparing for a July 22 Mass dedicated to immigrants and their families that will be celebrated at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.In an effort to support the Church community suffering the consequences of separation of families, incarceration or persecution of the undocumented, the archdiocesan Office of Justice and Peace is working together with a team of pastors on a campaign to accompany the families and raise awareness on immigration issues, explained Jaime Huerta, the office’s associate director who is heading the campaign.The campaign is also an effort to comply with the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizens: A Call to Political Responsibility,” Huerta added.Representatives of more than eight deaneries have committed to hold meetings with their fellow pastors to join the campaign, which will be officially launched with the July 22 Mass, with Archbishop José Gomez presiding. It will be followed by a press conference where pastors will explain the meaning and purpose of the series of events to be held throughout the archdiocese thereafter.“We are a country pledged to pursue ‘liberty and justice for all,’ but we are too often divided across lines of race, ethnicity, and economic inequality,” said the U.S. bishops in “Forming Consciences,” released in October 2011. “We are a nation of immigrants struggling to address the challenges of many new immigrants in our midst.”Every four years the U.S. bishops issue a statement focused on “political responsibility” and “faithful citizenship,” to remind voters of Catholic teachings as they relate to issues generally addressed in election years.“As Catholics,” they state, “we are part of a community with a rich heritage that helps us consider the challenges in public life and contribute to greater justice and peace for all people. The work for justice requires that the mind and the heart of Catholics be educated and formed to know and practice the whole faith.“We are called to promote the well-being of all, to share our blessings with those most in need, to defend marriage, and to protect the lives and dignity of all, especially the weak, the vulnerable, the voiceless,” state the bishops. “We are called to practice Christ’s commandment to ‘love one another,’ (John 13:34).”“The Bible is full with examples of what immigrant families have undergone,” said Huerta, “starting with the Holy Family.”The purpose of the local campaign, he explained, is to promote spiritual transformation and develop a prophetic voice.“We are an immigrant Church,” he said, “and we stand with the immigrants. Latinos, Vietnamese, Filipinos, German, African --- all are included.”“This is about building unity,” said Father Arturo Corral, administrator of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Los Angeles, “and people are really enthusiastic about it.”In a June 8 meeting, pastors from several deaneries shared pieces of the history of the archdiocese, which was built upon “movements of immigrants,” including the Cristeros of Mexico, unknown for most Catholics and just recently made known through the film, “For Greater Glory.”“People are very enthusiastic; they applauded when we shared the news,” said Humberto Ramos, parish life director of St. Marcellinus Church in Commerce, during a June 11 meeting to discuss planning details with pastors of Deanery 9.“Promote it wherever you can,” Jesuit Father Scott Santarosa, Dolores Mission pastor, recommended to fellow pastors. “Everybody’s welcomed, not only undocumented or Catholic.”According to plans, representatives of different ethnicities will share their testimony during the July Mass, where dignitaries are expected to attend.Activities such as workshops on immigration and related issues to be held at the different parishes were also suggested as a continuation of the long-term effort.For more information about the Immigration Campaign and the July 22 Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, call Jaime Huerta at the archdiocesan Office of Justice and Peace, (213) 637-7560 or email [email protected].{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0615/immigration/{/gallery}