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Cleveland Bishop Nelson Perez Says 'Churches Have No Borders'; Prays For Immigration Reform

photo of Bill Thaden, Nelson Perez
Father Bill Thaden (standing) of Sacred Heart Chapel in Lorain hosted Cleveland Diocese Bishop Nelson Perez (seated) to celebrate the special Mass to pray for immigrant families and immigration reform.

A Catholic church in Lorain hosted Bishop Nelson Perez yesterday for a special Mass to pray for immigrant families and for immigration reform.

Bishop Perez came to Sacred Heart Chapel because of the large number of Hispanics in the area – more than a fifth of the City of Lorain’s population. The Bishop says he came not to make a political statement but to hopefully show people that they cannot be indifferent to those who come to the U.S. illegally.

“The reality is that none of us, individually, really has the power to change laws, to reform immigration, to change policies. But remember what Paul said in that second reading: when you feel powerless, then you are powerful in God’s grace.

“For the church, there are no borders. The church cannot be detained. And the same church that was present in the lives of our brothers and sisters in their countries of origin – that encountered them and accompanied them – well they come here, and they’re embraced by the same church.”

ICE agents arrested more than 200 people in raids in Northeast Ohio last month. Church leaders say while none of the families at Sacred Heart were directly affected by those raids, parishioners are concerned that immigration actions could happen in Lorain.

Immigrant services
Jose Mendiola was at the service – he’s president of the Lorain, Ohio Immigrant Rights Association, which was formed four years ago.

“There’s a lot more support than there was a year ago. Of course, you’re going to have those factions that are not agreeing with the immigrants being here. But then, there’s not much we can do with them.”

Mendiola’s group provides assistance for undocumented immigrants and holds rallies to support people facing deportation. The association hosts an open meeting every Wednesday at Sacred Heart Chapel. The Chapel is also holding its annual festival starting Friday.