By Tim Harfmann
Solidarity could be felt in an immigrant, Queens community as undocumented migrants fear deportation.
“There is a feeling and a sense of refuge,” said Emily Alexa Acosta, who showed strong support for her neighbors.
Acosta was one of nearly 1,000 Catholics from Saint Sebastian Church processing through their Woodside neighborhood with the Eucharist on Sunday, June 23.
It was the feast of Christ’s Body and Blood — Corpus Christi.
Acosta is the daughter of Colombian immigrants and said the gathering showed that the community is stronger together.
“You really do get unified. It does bleed into all aspects of your life, especially right now where there’s a lot of division in the country,” said Acosta.
The procession came after President Trump delayed plans for nationwide raids to deport undocumented families. But, there’s still concerns for the future.
Blanca Tenpaguay, an immigrant from Ecuador, said they’re not losing hope.
“They trust in God. God protects us.”
Father Kevin Abels, pastor of Saint Sebastian, said the Church protects immigrants.
“I think a lot of people are cautious, and they’re looking behind their back; but we just have to protect them and assure them that when you come to Church, we provide a safe haven for worship and the praise of God,” said Fr. Abels, who celebrated Mass in that safe haven before the procession.
Leading worshippers through the streets, Fr. Abels stopped along the route to pray at makeshift altars. “We are all united together, and as I mentioned in the homily, we can always agree to disagree, but we are still united,” he said.
“I come because God loves me, and God is love. God gave that life for me and for everybody,” said Tenpaguay.
Now, they’re united as one Church to show their love for Christ during these times.