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Justice Ministries

“Justice is what love looks like in public.” …Cornell West

A committed group of St. Mary’s parishioners has come together to live our Christian call to justice. As the Rev. David Erickson phrases it, the goal of justice ministry is “to address systemic evil with systemic good.” Justice goes beyond charity to address the systems that cause and support injustice. In addition to feeding the hungry, for instance, justice asks that we identify and address the sources of hunger.  Justice invites us to recognize the incarnate Christ in everyone and actively live our Baptismal covenant to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.” If you wish more information or to be included on the Justice Ministry e-mail list, please contact Margaret Stafford, David Crosson or Kathleen Murray.


2018 JUSTICE MINISTRIES ANNUAL REPORT

The prophet Micah asks, “What does the Lord ask of you but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” In Micah’s exhortation, justice is not something you seek or pray for or talk about or hope will happen. Justice is something you live. The people of St. Mary’s are responding to Micah’s call.

After a year of exploratory discussions and parish workshops with Faith in Action Bay Area (FIABA), three lay leaders met with our (then) new rector, the Rev. David Erickson, deacon Tim Smith, and FIABA organizer Sara Miles on December 5, 2017, to identify opportunities for those who feel called to live our Christian commitment to justice beyond the physical walls of the church. With the Rev. Erickson’s enthusiastic support, the first meeting of St. Mary’s Justice Ministries was held on January 30, 2018. During an evening of prayer and discernment, we came to understand justice ministries as building relationships among people and communities. We initially divided into working groups on Youth and Policing, Homelessness and Housing, and Immigration. In the twelve succeeding months, over fifty parishioners have been called to these ministries.

For a full report on the work of St. Mary’s Justice Ministries in 2018, click this link.


Floricel: A Personal Story of Justice
Wednesday, June 6th, seven St. Mary’s parishioners joined about forty other people in support of an immigrant’s attempt to receive asylum in the United States. Her name is Floricel, and you can read her full story here: https://mailchi.mp/2ab873996a4b/meet-floricel-mother-of-3-detained-by-ice-182837.

Floricel was convicted of a DWI in 2016 and sentenced to a treatment program, which she fully completed. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents used that conviction to attempt to deport her. For 18 months, An ICE administrative judge used the DUI as can excuse through five hearings to keep Floricel incarcerated as a “threat to society,” all while awaiting the hearing on her request for asylum. The ICE judge is not a federal court judge, but an administrative judge within the Office of Homeland Security. Her actions and decisions can be appealed both within ICE and through federal courts.

In Feb. 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a 5-4 vote that undocumented immigrants could be held indefinitely by federal authorities without habeas corpus (a hearing to determine cause), because, in the court’s opinion, undocumented immigrants are not really in the U.S. In a stinging dissent, Justice Breyer argued that no court has taken this position since slavery. The ICE administrative court used the Supreme Court decision to keep Floricel incarcerated for nearly a year and a half.

Then, this spring, after two hearings that some from St. Mary’s attended, a 9th circuit federal judge ordered Floricel’s release–without bond. (The judge wryly noted that Floricel had spent more time in ICE detention than she would have spent in civil jail if convicted of the DWI.) Floricel’s release was scheduled the same day that ICE administrative court was to hold the hearing on Floricel’s appeal for asylum. Even with the knowledge of her release, the court decided to hold the hearing, and Floricell was on camera from a holding room in a detention center. We sat and watched as, about an hour into the hearing, a guard entered Floricel’s room and informed the judge, via camera, that he was removing Floricel for release.

Floricel

We had hoped that the new asylum hearing would be rescheduled before a different judge, based upon the obvious prejudices of this one. But it was not. That is how we all got to Courtroom 1, 4th floor, 630 Sansome, on the sixth. At the end of the hearing, the judge simply said, “We are adjourned.” Floricel’s attorney asked if the judge would tell us when to expect a decision. The judge said, “No.” And it was over. We are happy to wait. No matter what happens, Floricel is free, and will remain so upon appeal, if necessary, which may take 2-4 years.

The only way that I can even begin to tell you how much St. Mary’s participation meant is to direct us all back to the faces of Floricel and her daughter, Jennifer. With the support of hundreds of people over the past eighteen months, Floricel was able to attend Jennifer’s high school graduation last week. Their joy and gratitude tell it all. This is living the Kingdom of God in the World. This is Justice Ministry.