University of St. Thomas establishes Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program

The University of St. Thomas has recently developed a VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program “to help nonresident aliens file their tax returns.” Student volunteers assist international students enrolled at St. Thomas University with filing their required taxes.

This recently established program provides benefits for both those receiving the assistance and the volunteers. In addition to helping a student in need, volunteers gain technical knowledge on the income tax system in the United States and “develop soft skills by working with real clients from all over the world.” With the establishment of this program, St. Thomas University renews its commitment and support to its international students.

To read more or become involved in VITA visit University of St. Thomas news.

Catholic Colleges Host Events in Solidarity with Immigrants

Twelve Catholic colleges and universities hosted events in solidarity with immigrant brothers and sisters on January 19, as a part of the Ignatian Solidarity Network‘s call to prayer, Prayers of Light.

Saint Peter’s University hosted a prayer service featuring a student choir and students sharing their experience of being undocumented. The service ended with an opportunity to contact Congress on behalf of humane immigration policies.

Students at Loyola University Maryland held a walking candlelight vigil during the busy lunch hour at the campus student center.

Other colleges and universities that held events for the day of prayer include: Fairfield University, Xavier University, John Carroll University, Canisius College, Loyola University of Chicago, Marquette University, Saint Louis University, Gonzaga University, University of San Francisco, and Spring Hill College.

The purpose of the call to prayer was to illuminate, through solidarity and action, the dignity of our immigrant brothers and sisters, and the value of each person’s contribution to our country.  To see prayers and resources related to the event, visit the Ignatian Solidarity Network website.

How are you practicing solidarity on your campus? Share your story with us! Email Lexie Bradley.

Prayers of Light: A Call to Prayer for Immigrants

The Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) is organizing a day of prayer on January 19, 2017 as a way “to illuminate the dignity of our immigrant brothers and sisters, and the value of each individual’s contribution to the country.” They offer resources and ideas for organizing prayer on that day on their website.

ISN offers ideas of how to become involved:

  • Host a prayer service or intention a Mass at your campus, parish, or organization for immigrants
  • Use symbols of light such as vigil candles as a part of your prayer experience
  • Lift up the stories of immigrant members of your community
  • Invite the local community to join you in prayer
  • Pray for our new governmental leaders to enact policies that illuminate the dignity of immigrant brothers and sisters
  • Create environments of prayer that focus on illuminating the social teachings of our Catholic faith and other faith traditions

More resources and prayers are available on their website.

Catholic College and University Presidents Sign Statement of Support for Undocumented Students

Over 100 Catholic college and university presidents have signed a statement of support of undocumented students. The statement, sponsored by ACCU, pledges support of students who have been approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and expresses hope that their studies will be allowed to continue uninterrupted. Those who signed “pledge to support these students – through our campus counseling and ministry support, through legal resources from those campuses with law schools and legal clinics, and through whatever other services we may have at our disposal.”

The statement reflects on Pope Francis’ commitment to immigrants and refugees, especially in his recent visit to the United States. The statement included signatures of presidents of Catholic colleges and universities from across the country. They find support in the long history of American Catholic higher education institutions educating students from diverse backgrounds and welcoming those on the margins.

Read the full statement on the ACCU website.

Register for the 2016 Catholic Institutions and Immigrant Integration Conference

The 2016 annual gathering on Catholic Institutions and Immigrant Integration (CIII) is planned for November 28-30, 2016 in San Diego. The first two days will consist of keynotes and interactive workshops at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego. The last day will include site visits in San Diego and Tijuana.

The project seeks to identify, study, and support a growing network of diverse Catholic institutions that are implementing successful programs and ministries with immigrants. The project’s overall goals are to improve and expand the work of Catholic institutions on immigrant integration, empowerment, and well-being. The conference will:

  • Speak to the theological vision that underlies the Church’s work on immigrant integration;
  • Lift up important research on the work of Church institutions with immigrants, and link academics/researchers with leaders from diverse Catholic institutions;
  • Promote effective models of immigrant integration; and
  • Dialogue on Catholic advocacy opportunities and strategies in light of the Presidential election.

 

Advent Immigration Resource Available

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to speak about justice for immigrants. Click here to see their recent statement welcoming the Obama Administration’s announcement of relief for immigrant families. The USCCB Committee on Migration also calls for urgent pastoral attention and a more human view of immigrants.

In a related news item, the Interfaith Immigration Coalition has produced an Advent resource called Waiting for the Light. This resource is focused on immigration and includes a Sunday scripture reflection, a story, prayer, and suggested action to bring justice to immigration reform – perfect for reflection, social action, and faith sharing groups on campus!