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Iowa Catholic Sisters Kick Off Immigration Reform Campaign

Catholic sisters' billboard campaign for immigrant rights
This billboard on Ingersoll avenue in Des Moines is part of a Catholic sisters' campaign for immigrant rights in Iowa. Photo: Jon Krieg / AFSC

(Reprinted from a press release. For more info:

Catholic sisters in Iowa and other states are launching a campaign using billboards, posters and prayer to provoke discussion on immigration. Catholic sisters from ten religious communities in Iowa and neighboring states will kick off a campaign on Monday that ties the words of Jesus to a more open view on immigration.

Media for the campaign will come in the form of posters and billboards across the state featuring a Bible verse, or at least a modern take on one.

“I was a strange a stranger and you welcomed me,” reads Matthew 25:35.

On the media, however, the words “a stranger” are crossed out with the words “an immigrant” scrawled in their place. The message is signed, “Jesus.”

The posters and billboards will be seen in Des Moines, Dubuque Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, Clinton and the Quad Cities. The sisters are also coordinating prayer services in those cities as part of the effort.

“We declare ourselves ‘Welcoming Communities’ in affirmation of our Catholic tradition that holds sacred the dignity of each person,” the sisters said in their statement, “and we invite other communities and people of faith to join us in becoming ‘Immigrant Welcoming Communities’ through prayer, reflection, education and action.”

They called their campaign a “direct response” to Secure Communities, a deportation program coordinated at local, state and federal levels that enlists law enforcement officials in identifying and removing illegal immigrants. Some immigration reform advocates have said the program results in fewer crimes being reported in some communities by individuals fearing deportations.

Congregations involved in the campaign include: Congregation of the Humility of Mary, Davenport, Ia., the Dominican Sisters, Sinsinawa, Wis.; Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque, Ia.; Sisters of the Presentation, Dubuque, Ia.; Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Ia.; Sisters of the Visitation, Dubuque, Ia.; Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Ia.; Sisters of St. Benedict, Rock Island, Ill.; Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, La Crosse, Wis.; Sisters of Mercy, West Midwest Community, Omaha, Neb.