September 22, 2017, Chicago – Aquinas Literacy Center celebrated International Literacy Day, September 8, in a very special way – with a grand opening celebration for its new site.
Sister Kathleen Klingen, OP, Chapter Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Midwest Mission Chapter, based in Chicago, opened the celebration with a heart-felt blessing. Officiating at the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia; State Representative Theresa Mah; and Aquinas staff members: Alison Altmeyer, executive director; Sabrina Poulin, volunteer coordinator; and Meg Green, program director.
“It was a perfect evening, [celebrated by] learners, volunteers, neighbors, supporters, political leaders and 19 Adrian Dominican Sisters,” Alison wrote in an email describing the event.
The Adrian Dominican Sisters opened Aquinas Literacy Center in 1996 in the basement of the convent at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church. Aquinas has grown from a small center with two tables and five chairs to one that continues to offer tutoring in the English language.
“Aquinas Literacy Center has bridged the cultural divide in the McKinley Park community by offering English as a Second Language instruction to adult immigrants,” Alison said. One-on-one tutoring is supported by programs such as conversation classes, book clubs, writing workshops, computer learning opportunities, and job assistance workshops.
Alison is pleased with the new site. “Our location is ideal – on a main street, next to the local elementary school and two blocks away from the local library,” she explained. “We have experienced an increase in new student registrations because we’re more visible.”
For more details, read this article by Joe Ward in DNA Info.
Attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Aquinas Literacy Center’s new site are, from left, Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, State Representative Theresa Mah, Aquinas Literacy Center Executive Director Alison Altmeyer, Program Director Meg Green, and volunteer Tutor Rita Janco.
September 19, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – City of Adrian Commissioners spoke loud and clear during their meeting September 18, passing by a vote of 6-1 a resolution showing support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the Dreamers – the young immigrants who are affected.
Initiated by President Barack Obama in 2012, DACA offered a delay in deportation of immigrants who had come into the United States as children with their parents but without official papers. The program offers protection to more than 800,000 young people who arrived in the United States at an early age – many of whom have known this country as home. In early September, the Trump administration announced the program would phase out in six months.
The termination of DACA is “cruel and deeply unfair to hundreds of thousands of young people who are citizens of this country in every way except on paper,” the Adrian City Commission’s resolution states. “Deporting the Dreamers to countries they have no ties to and may not even remember is a travesty of justice.” The resolution calls on Congress to “act immediately to pass the Dream Act and to use the next six months to work on comprehensive immigration reform.” The resolution will be presented to U.S. Representative Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) and Senators Debbie Stabinow and Gary Peters, both Democrats from Michigan.
Mayor Jim Berryman presented the proposal, opening the floor to comments. The first to speak was Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Director of the Congregation’s Immigration Assistance Office. An immigration attorney, Sister Attracta “laid out the background, explained the 20-year failure of Congress to come up with immigration reform, and expressed the need to support this resolution,” Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, Director of Formation, wrote in an email reporting on the event to Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, and Co-workers. The six speakers who followed Sister Attracta all spoke in favor of the resolution, Sister Lorraine noted.
Others with ties to the Adrian Dominican Sisters who attended the meeting in solidarity with the Dreamers were Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, and Elaine Johnson, a Co-worker in the Congregation’s Permaculture Office.
In her report, Sister Lorraine noted a profound insight she gained from Laura Parra, of the local Sunnyside Center for Peace and Justice. She said that, while politicians might expect such resolutions from large cities, “a message like this from a small Midwestern city is not expected and could have a bigger impact!”
Adrian Dominican Sisters have long supported DACA, Dreamers, and a just immigration system. In response to President Trump’s decision to phase out DACA, the General Council issued a statement, grieving for the “pain and hardship” that the action would cause Dreamers and their families and decrying the President’s decision, which “runs counter to our national and economic interests, as well as to the basic American values of decency in how we treat others, especially the young.” Several Adrian Dominican Sisters were among a group who gathered at the Adrian Courthouse shortly after President Trump’s decision to show their support for the Dreamers.
Sisters and Associates in the Dominican Midwest Mission Chapter, based in Chicago, have acted on their Chapter Initiative on Immigration. Through the initiative, they support immigrants and immigration reform through prayer, advocacy on behalf of immigrants, weekly prayer vigils at a deportation center in Chicago, and volunteer ministry at immigration courts and shelters for immigrants. The Congregation’s seven literacy centers work directly with immigrants, helping them to learn English as a second language and gain other skills.
Feature photo: In this file photo from 2013, Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, then Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation, blesses a banner proclaiming the Congregation’s stance in favor of just immigration reform. Sister Attracta is now Director of the Adrian Dominican Sisters Immigration Assistance Office.