This is a podcast interview with Rev. Craig B. Mousin, founder and former Director of the Midwest Immigrant Rights Center and an Adjunct Faculty member at DePaul University’s College of Law and The Grace School of Applied Diplomacy. The podcast celebrates the thirty-sixth anniversary of former Mayor Harold Washington’s Executive Order 85-1 that prohibited city agencies, including the police, from cooperating with the enforcement activities of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. After the Chicago City Council enacted an ordinance sharing Mayor Washington’s goals twelve years ago, the City Council recently added new amendments to Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance, signed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot on February 23, 2021. The podcast commends the activism of the Chicago Immigration Working Group for its efforts to build a truly welcoming city. To that end, that Group reminded all that “to be a true welcoming city, Chicago must start to divest from criminalization, begin to invest in our communities, and ensure true police accountability.” (press release celebrating the new amendments which includes the list of the diverse groups that constitute the Chicago Immigration Working Group): https://www.icirr.org/News/Welcoming-City-Ordinance-is-a-win-by-and-for-our-communities%2C-but-work-remains-to-be-done
For more information on Chicago’s response to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and Mayor Harold Washington’s issuance of his Executive Order 85-1, see “A Clear View from the Prairie: Harold Washington and the People of Illinois Respond to Federal Encroachment of Human Rights,” 29 S. Ill. L. J. 285 (Fall, 2004/Winter, 2005):
“God also works incessantly from outside himself in the creation and preservation of this great universe, in the movements of the heavens, in the influences of the stars, in the productions of land and sea, in the nature of the atmosphere, in the regulation of the seasons, and in all that beautiful order we observe in nature, which would be destroyed and return to nothingness if God was not constantly guiding it.” Vincent de Paul (CCD 9: 384). Love of Work, 28 November, 1649.
Recently, several DePaul colleagues have shared with me about the joy they feel when they are in the natural world. A sense of awe, a feeling of pleasure, a wave of gratitude that may be found “in that beautiful order we observe in nature,” as Vincent de Paul once wrote. Although his defining years were spent within cosmopolitan Paris, Vincent was forever shaped by his childhood in the bucolic countryside of Gascony. He learned early the handiwork of God that is evident in creation. Hundreds of years later, in our own urban setting of Chicago, we know to take a stroll around the block or a turn in a park or just to look above the buildings towards the sky can bring a quiet moment’s peace and perhaps even surprise us with something unexpected and beautiful.
Today, in the midst of a global pandemic, spending time outside, in reflection, may not only be helpful for our physical health, it may also provide respite and a new perspective for our spirits. A reminder that while we are only a small part of a larger whole, we are not alone. In these late days of summer, as we prepare for the beginning of a most anticipated, and uncertain, school year, it seems an even greater imperative for us to experience the balm of creation. Not only for the benefit it promises to the body and to the soul, but also for the possibility of glimpsing the hand of God at work in our midst.
Where are places in nature you can go to and feel inspired or at peace? How can you enjoy these days of the summer season in ways that you know will bring you joy?
We know not everyone has reasonable access to the natural world or a healthy environment. How might you be able to contribute to the beauty and sustainability of the earth for all its inhabitants?
Reflection by: Tom Judge, Chaplain, Mission and Ministry
In this episode Rev. Craig B. Mousin discusses the deployment of federal officers to Portland in reaction to the ongoing protests. He discusses the problem of relying on federal immigration officers for local law enforcement and links some of Chicago’s responses to federal interference in local matters.
He references a previous podcast about DACA recipients and their families and communities. It is available here:
For more insight into the distinction between the constitutional constraints on Customs And Border Enforcement and local law enforcement, see a blog co-authored by a former colleague at DePaul College of Law’s Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic, Linus Chan, now an Associate Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School: “Trump’s Paramilitary Unites Trained at the Border for the Assaults on Portland Moms,” by Linus Chan and Carrie L. Rosenbaum. slate.com/news-and-politics/20…d-moms-attacked.html
DePaul students and faculty participated in DePaul’s annual“Vincentian Service Day” May 4, where students
volunteer at sites across Chicago in a super-charged day of service. DePaul volunteers cheerfully flocked to McGrath Arena at 8 a.m. on Saturday where they partook in some interfaith prayers and were sent off to their respective service sites. The cheerful demeanor of all those present was derived from the knowledge of the good they were doing in their community.
DePaul’s Jewish Life coordinator, Matthew Charnay, took a moment to describe the idea behind Vincentian Service Day.
“It is something that staff and students look forward to all year. The chance to get out into the community and do work with your fellow classmates is such a positive experience,” said Charnay. “The ability to stand in solidarity with not only peers, but fellowChicagoans, people of faith and standing together as a community, not just a school community but a world community, is a highlight for the entire university.”
It seems that Charnay voiced exactly how DePaul students feel about this day. “(Vincentian Service Day) is important because it teaches DePaul students to look beyond themselves,” said Taj Simmons, DePaul junior andVSD team leader. “Too often in college we become self-absorbed and block out what’s going on all around us, and Vincentian Service Day really gives us a chance to go beyond what we know.”
Simmons also noted how much it has expanded over the years.
“It’s grown so much since I was a freshman. My first year, all of the service groups started inside of the (St. Vincent de Paul church) before leaving for their work. Going from that to the quad last year to McGrath Arena this year is just an amazing leap forward. I never thought there would be so many people dedicated to taking action to keep Chicago as glorious as it is, but now that I know there are, I can’t help but feel elated.”
Charnay echoed Simmons’ sentiment in regards to the day’s steady growth over the years. “We keep expanding the number of service sites that we visit and this year we even had students and families come to DePaul for activities. It will only continue to grow. When you have such a great program and everyone involved can see the wealth of positivity and justice that is the end product, it makes it very easy to keep growing that program. I can only see it getting bigger in years to come.”
The community members who benefited from this day had positive things to say as well. Laila Muhammad, director of Zakat Chicago Community Center gushed about DePaul students who planted a vegetable garden at the community center. “The students were very helpful. The garden really brightened up the area,” said Muhammad. “It’s something that will continue to benefit the community. Last year when we had the garden, a boy had never had red lettuce before, but now he asks for it like candy. It can change a person’s life and encourage more nutritious eating.” In this way, one day of service can have lasting effects on a community.
“I think (the service day) is great,” said Muhammad. “I think that it shows DePaul’s understanding of the holistic approach to education. You can’t just teach in the classroom, you have to go out and experience life.”
That appears to be precisely what DePaul’s Vincentians in Action are hoping to achieve. Indeed, Charnay said “It is one thing to talk the talk, but when we give students the outlet to walk the walk of service, they have a chance to experience firsthand the mission that drives this university to new heights. To take something theoretical (and) intellectual such as the ‘dignity of every human life’ and make it tangible, the lesson is better received, and it gives students time to reflect on their work.”