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Nuns for a cause: Hundreds of sisters rally for immigration reform

November 15, 2013

Hundreds of Catholic nuns will gather on Loyola University New Orleans' campus to rally for comprehensive immigration reform Saturday, Nov. 23 at 11 a.m. Set for Loyola’s Marquette Horseshoe fronting St. Charles Avenue, the demonstration aims to show the sisters’ support for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

The rally is sponsored by the Catholic religious congregations of the New Orleans Archdiocese in cooperation with Loyola’s Jesuit Social Research Institute. Loyola student organization, Iggy Immigration Advocacy, is also participating in the rally. In the event of rain, the New Orleans Nuns Rally for Comprehensive Immigration Reform will be held in Miller Hall, room 114 on Loyola’s main campus.

“Over a thousand immigrants are being deported a day, devastating families and undermining communities. In June, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Now, the House must show it is capable of addressing our nation’s problems by taking urgent action on comprehensive immigration reform before Congress adjourns for the year,” said Susan Weishar, Ph.D., migration specialist at Loyola’s Jesuit Social Research Institute.

Nuns representing more than 12 religious communities along with college students and other members of the community are expected to join the Loyola rally. Speakers at the rally include Sister Clarita Bourque, M.S.C., Sister Pat Brady, O.P., Sister Laura Mercier, S.S.F., and Loyola senior Samuel Rottman.

“College students in New Orleans have a responsibility to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform because as privileged, yet equal members of society, it is imperative that we strive for social justice to share the freedoms we so enjoy,” said Rottman, the student founder and project leader of Iggy Immigration Advocacy at Loyola.

“The current immigration system is so broken that it denies immigrants basic human and civil rights. We call for comprehensive reform that would provide additional and viable legal avenues for immigration, reunite families, legalize undocumented persons and establish opportunities for permanent residency,” according to a statement from the Dominican Sisters of Peace, who represent two congregations that have served New Orleans and Louisiana for more than 150 years.

“The 600 members of our Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph extend our resolute support to our sisters and other religious women and men, associates, friends and students taking part in (the) rally in New Orleans,” Sister Jeannie Masterson, C.S.J., a member of the congregation’s leadership team, said in a statement.

Many Catholic sisters were immigrants themselves when they first came to New Orleans more than 200 years ago.

“We do this from the historically personal perspective that our founding sisters themselves were immigrants when they arrived in New Orleans from France in the 1800s at the request of bishops to take care of people who were destitute; those who were elderly, sick or injured and needed medical care; orphans; and children who needed to be educated,” Masterson said in the statement.

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