Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone celebrated a special immigration Mass before 700 congregants at St. Peter Church in the Mission District on March 11 in response to requests from community members for his pastoral presence during a time of uncertainty.

More than a dozen priests from parishes throughout the archdiocese took part in the bilingual Mass honoring the dignity of immigrants and refugees. St. Peter pastor Father Moises Agudo concelebrated.

After the Mass, a team of volunteers from eight local nonprofits offered a “know your rights” forum in the parish school gym.

In his homily on the day’s readings, the archbishop referred to Moses’ words to the Israelites in their exodus out of Egypt to the Promised Land.

“Moses tells them to follow the law of the Lord and to obey his commandments,” he said. “Because whoever follows the law of the Lord will have nothing to fear. The people then had lots to fear. They were in the desert for 40 years.”

Lorena Melgarejo, parish organizer for the archdiocese’s Office of Human Life and Dignity, said that when she asked the anxious community what people needed most from the local church, the archbishop’s presence was at the top of the list.

“That really showed the people here the archbishop’s concern for the Hispanic community,” said Mercy Sister Marian Rose Power, who has long served at St. Peter School. With the archbishop’s presence, the availability of lawyers to speak with them, a full church of English and Spanish-speaking people together, “in some respects I could see their fears subside a little after seeing people walking side-by-side with them,” she said.

Full story at Catholic San Francisco.

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