Making A Difference

4 parishes on Chicago's South Side help to sponsor migrant family as part of new program

“These are people that have endured many, many sacrifices to get here,” one parishioner said. “They want exactly the same thing that we want for our own families"

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As more migrant families continue to pour into Chicago, four parishes on the city’s South Side are teaming up to help.

“By welcoming the migrants in we feel we have the opportunity to do God’s work,” said Father Larry Sullivan. “I really feel this is an opportunity for us to step up to do what’s right.”

Sullivan is the pastor of Christ the King Parish in the Beverly neighborhood and said parishioners have been donating money and time to sponsor a migrant family.

“There really is a lot of good work that’s taking place here both individually and collectively,” he said.

The family of five from Venezuela was assigned through Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“It has been such a wonderful experience to meet them and I’m sure they feel the same having seen all the wonderful support they’ve received from all four churches,” said Griselda Garibay, a St. Barnabas Church parishioner.

Garibay is part of a group of volunteers helping the family acclimate to their new surroundings and home near Calumet Heights. Everything seen in the family’s home was donated.

“They are more than anything utterly thankful that they’re blessed to be paired with us,” she said. “It was many weeks that took for them to come here - crossing the jungle, among other things.”

Garibay told NBC 5 she’s a Mexican immigrant and hearing their personal stories hit close to home.

“These are people that have endured many, many sacrifices to get here,” she said. “They want exactly the same thing that we want for our own families.”

While the sponsorship is only for six months, the church hopes this will give the family enough time to be self sufficient so they can start the process again to help another family.

“As a parish this is kind of new so we’re just getting started,” said Patrick McGowan, who is the director of lifelong formation at St. Barnabas Church. “So we’re hoping we can be an example of a parish and a group of parishes who officially didn’t have a long history of doing this kind of work saying, 'hey, you can jump into this.'”

Other parishes, like St. Mary of the Lake on the North Side also put out a call for landlords to be part of the sponsorship program. Garibay said she is proud of her community for doing the right thing.

“I want people to know that they can do as much or as little as they can,” she said. “It has renewed my sense of hope in humanity—the empathy that I see it is very heartwarming.”

Click here to learn more about the Southside Parish Renewal Family Sponsorship program.

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