JRS/USA: Accompanying Detainees with Open Arms
20 February 2020|Joan Rosenhauer, JRS/USA Executive Director
During a recent trip to Florence, AZ Joan Rosenhauer, JRS/USA Executive Director, visited the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Detention Center. While there, she spent the day with JRS colleague, Sr. Lynn Alvin, OP, who provides pastoral care for people being detained by the U.S. government. Read Joan’s reflection on the vital work Sr. Lynn does for the people she serves everyday.
Recently I had an opportunity to visit my colleague, Sr. Lynn Alvin, OP, who works with JRS/USA as a Chaplain at the Department of Homeland Security Florence Detention Center in Arizona. As we delivered religious materials to the detainees in housing units, I saw how important her pastoral care and the opportunity to practice their faith was to the young men, many of whom were in the process of being deported.
They immediately lined up to speak with her when she entered the unit and waited patiently for the opportunity to ask her for an appointment, religious items, and, in one case, to make sure she knew he’d been moved — so he didn’t miss choir practice. In one unit, the young men started clapping when she announced she’d brought the religious items they’d requested — religious texts from various traditions including bibles, as well as rosaries and meal cards for those whose faith requires a special diet. The experience affirmed for me how important it is to treat with dignity and provide support to those going through the U.S. asylum process.
The JRS/USA National Chaplaincy Program provides pastoral and religious assistance to meet the needs of non-citizens detained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in five US federal detention centers located in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and New York. The National Detention Chaplaincy Program enables people of all faiths and no faith to have access to pastoral and spiritual care within either their faith tradition or no faith tradition.