Late last week we learned about the proposed plan to build an immigrant detention center in Elkhart County. As I am sure that you can imagine, many people in our parish community are upset, disturbed, and worried at this announcement. I am aware that immigration is a matter about which there are many different opinions, and even many different opinions allowed within the teachings of the Church. Immigration, in the Church’s teaching, is largely a matter political of prudence. Therefore, I do not intend, as a representative of the Catholic Church, to take a side on whether or not the Elkhart County commissioners should allow this project to proceed. I recognize that these are very difficult decisions. (So, incidentally, does the for-profit corporation that wants to build this detention center, which is why they have hired a public relations firm. Don’t just take in sound bites, please be well informed.) What I do absolutely intend to take a stand on, though, is that the members of this parish and of our community who are concerned and distressed about this and other immigration decisions have the right, as human beings created in the image and likeness of God, to be treated with compassion and to know the loving and comforting presence of Christ in their hour of difficulty in and through His Church. No one should have to feel that their Church, the body of Christ of which he is a part, has abandoned him and will not speak for him. I want to invite everyone in our parish to consider how we can respond with compassion for those who are suffering, and to consider how you might reach out to those in need of a friend. I can tell you from personal experience that if you take the time to get to know those who are suffering, your opinion about their situation might be very different.