Jan. 24, 2017 - St. Peter’s University was one of 12 Jesuit institutions across the East coast praying for immigrants and other vulnerable communities on Jan. 19, the eve of President Trump’s inauguration. The institutions were part of a larger national effort called “prayers of light” coordinated by the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN). For St. Peter’s University, this prayer vigil was the first of three days spent lifting up their beloved community which includes so many immigrant students. Co-sponsored by the Kairos Social Justice Program, Campus Ministry, The Center for Undocumented Students, the student club Reaching After Immigrant Intellect and Success (RAIIS) and Schola, the event focused on lifting up hope amidst times of fear and uncertainty.
After opening remarks framing the issue, staff members of Campus Ministry offered a prayer for immigrants. Students, staff and faculty held flameless tealight candles and posters of activist ancestors, men and women who fought for a more just and humane society. These posters offered a reminder that those who worked for justice before are present at all times and that we must call on them to help us in these times.
Students and faculty read passages of Langston Hughes’s powerful poem Let America Be America Again. The event opening concluded with the student choir singing a beautiful rendition of Halleluia. The event continued with those in attendance sharing cupcakes and other treats, along with informal conversation and resource materials such as myths and facts about immigrants, know your rights cards, and information about a bill proposed in the House of Representatives (HR 83,) whose goal is to withdraw federal funds for sanctuary cities and campuses. Attendees were encouraged to contact their federal elected officials to express concern with this legislation.