Who are they?

Jesus said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” Mark 10:14

It is a nearly 3,000-mile journey from Southern Honduras to the southernmost tip of Texas, a region called the Rio Grande Valley, where most unaccompanied migrant children from Central America enter the United States. Over 50,000 children have already arrived in 2014. Most children begin their journey by bus, often accompanied by a coyote, or human trafficker, which costs a few thousand dollars. They stop at safe houses along the way that are usually crowded. An unaccompanied child is one who lacks immigration status, is under 18, and who is present without a parent or legal guardian. The average age is dropping: children under age 10 are now making the dangerous journey predominantly from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras and Mexico.

Why are they coming?

Honduras and El Salvador, where there are more gang members than police officers and extreme violence, cannot adequately protect children, who are left extremely vulnerable (93% of crimes perpetrated against youth go unpunished). Many children leave for the possibility of family reunification and/or in search of educational and economic opportunities. Mexico has no foster care system for asylum-seeking children and a lack of children’s shelters. The children are often left in detention centers with adults or they seek deportation to try again.


48% of children are affected by violence from drug cartels, gangs or the state.

21% of children survived abuse and violence in the home.

38% of children from Mexico are exploited in the criminal human trafficking industry.

Up to 72% of children may have more than compelling reasons to receive asylum.

What are they risking to come here?

The journey north to the border finds children in danger of drug traffickers, human traffickers, corrupt law enforcement, and gang activity. Girls are routinely raped on the journey and gang violence along the route is common. The children who are able to cross into the United States are being held in detention centers at the border and at other federal facilities, such as military bases. Immigration policy does not require the state to supply an attorney, often leaving children dealing with trauma to represent themselves in deportation hearings.

Take Action

Pray for the children and their families.

Contribute financially to the archdiocesan through the Office for Immigrant Affairs. They will forward your donation to Catholic Charities in San Antonio. Please make checks payable to Office for Immigrant Affairs, 3525 South Lake Park Ave., Chicago IL 60653. Write on the envelope and check: “for unaccompanied children.”

To learn more, call Lisa Polega (English) 312-534-8104 or Yazmin Saldivar (Spanish) 312-534-8105.

For additional resources on unaccompanied children, visit catholicsandimmigrants.org

Sources: No Country for Lost Kids, PBS Newshour June 20, 2014; Office of Refugee Resettlement, Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities, Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., VERA Institute of Justice, Bishop Mark Seitz testimony, USCCB.

Kermes 2014 a success

Summer Festival Showcases Mexican Culture

The parish youth group pitches in at the kermes.

The parish youth group pitches in at the kermes.

This year’s one-and-only Kermes was a great success. Hundreds of visitors enjoyed the beautiful weather, rich Mexican cuisine and cultural offerings.

For the first time, the parish will host only one Kermes this year, opting to run the festival for three days and offer beer and wine to increase our revenue. We also added carnival rides and games that were very attractive to families with children, and we continued the tradition of showcasing Aztec dancers, regional music from Mexico and other cultural programming.

This year Jóvenes en Acción, the newly formed parish youth group, worked long hours making fresh fruit drinks. “I don’t know how we ever managed without their help,” Fr. Brendan said.

As always the car raffle was the highlight of the event. Araceli Lucio, the health coordinator at our sister agency, The Resurrection Project was the winner of the cherry red For Mustang.

News from St. Pius V School

Scholarships Now Available

The Archdiocese of Chicago is providing six million dollars worth of scholarships to help Chicago students gain access to great Catholic schools like St. Pius V!  Through the Caritas Scholarship program funded by the “To Teach Who Christ Is” campaign, St. Pius V can now offer a limited number of reduced tuition scholarships for students who transfer from public schools. Qualifying students may receive a scholarship that will pay for up to 50% of their tuition for three years. Only a few of these scholarships are still available, so please contact the school today to request more information. You may call the school office at (312) 226-1590 or visit www.saintpiusv.org to fill out an interest form. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity!

Congratulations St. Pius V Class of 2014!

The Class of 2014

The Class of 2014

We offer our prayers for a bright future to the St. Pius V School graduating class of 2014. These students have worked hard and accomplished great things already. Soon they will begin their journeys through high school, college and beyond.

“The path we choose for the next eight years — high school and college —- may not be easy,” said graduating 8th grade student Madalyn Torres, “but we should not give up. For what we put into our education will help us to make our career.”

The graduates will attend some of the city’s top high schools, including St. Ignatius College Prep, Whitney Young, De La Salle, Holy Trinity, UIC College Prep, and Our Lady of Tepeyac, among others. Congratulations, Class of 2014! We are proud of you.

Goodbye and God bless, Ms. Lucarelli!

Ms. Liz Lucarelli

Ms. Liz Lucarelli

Ms. Elizabeth Lucarelli has completed 20 years as our kindergarten teacher , having spent her 42-year teaching career in Catholic schools. “Liz Lucarelli has a passion for helping young students fall in love with school,” said principal Nancy Nasko. “In kindergarten, she readies the children for the rest of their school career. It is a critical age and she is the best at capturing young minds and getting them excited about learning, we are grateful for her service.”

School Enrollment Open for 2014-15!

Your child or a child you know can benefit from St. Pius V School’s long, rich tradition of educational excellence and service to our community. Many of our students are children of alumni, attesting to the enduring value of a St. Pius V education.

Call us today to enroll your child, and encourage families you know to consider St. Pius V as a great option for their children. Remind them that our graduates go on to attend the top high schools in the city. Please visit www.saintpiusv.org to complete an interest form or call (312) 226-1590 to request a tour.

Noche Mexicana: What a Fiesta!

Thank you to all of the sponsors, donors, friends, and volunteers who helped make our 8th annual Noche Mexicana a huge success! We had a fantastic time raising funds for student scholarships and celebrating Ms. Abby Torres and Mrs. Nancy Nasko, both of whom recently won prestigious awards. Your generosity means more students can study at St. Pius V and benefit from a safe, excellent education. Thanks for funding the dreams of the next generation of parish leaders!

Missed the opportunity? Call 312.226-1590 to learn how you can make a world of difference by supporting the St. Pius V School scholarship fund.

“I’m talking about my heart.”

The Rosas family receives and gives back to parish, community

Antonia Rosas sits with her husband Rudolfo in their modest Pilsen home and declares “When I talk about St. Pius V, I’m talking about my heart.”

She makes this impassioned declaration because of the role St. Pius V has played in her family’s joys and sorrows – both of which have been plentiful. She and Rudolfo say that the support they received from St. Pius V during the difficult years after their immigration from Mexico kept their marriage and family together.

It started when they arrived in Chicago in 1995 with their toddler son. Antonia’s aunt invited her to join the parish Christian base communities. She accepted, she said, but participated only halfheartedly until parish staff member Dolores Tapia encouraged Antonia to give more of herself. She joined the parish leadership program, which, she says, taught her about her faith, about the principles of Catholic social teaching, and, perhaps most importantly, that she has her own voice she can use for good.

Antonia began using that voice to strengthen her family. Her participation in the parish women’s group helped her see that she and Rudolfo needed support as a couple. Though Rudolfo was initially resistant, they both say now that the programs helped them to understand each other, to improve their relationship with their three children, and to grow spiritually and emotionally. When Rudolfo brings out photographs taken on their wedding day – almost 25 years ago, Antonia says “Without the help of the programs at St. Pius V our marriage would not have lasted all these years.

“Your daughter has been shot.”

With the help of St. Pius V Parish, Antonia and Rodolfo faced a challenge this spring that they met with uncommon grace and strength.

On a mild March afternoon Antonia answered the phone and heard the words no mother should have to hear: “Your daughter has been shot.”

Sixteen-year-old Mireya, a leader in the parish youth group, was walking with a friend in Pilsen’s business district after school when a gunfight erupted between two gangs. She was caught in the (See page three) hail of bullets. Miraculously, the bullet that struck Mireya passed through her body without hitting a vital organ. While in the hospital, she was concerned about informing the principal that she might miss some classes. After a few days she was back in school.

On Memorial Day weekend mother and daughter spoke publically about the importance of programs in the faith community to curb violence. At a summer kick-off for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Faith and Action Initiative, Antonia expressed her gratitude for the life of her daughter. And Mireya? With her characteristic selflessness, she stood before the crowd and said, “I was so terrified. I thought I wasn’t the only one that got hit. I thought there were more.”

Mireya and her mom speak out against violence as Fr. Brendan listens.

Mireya and her mom speak out against violence as Fr. Brendan listens.

Speaking at the event Fr. Brendan Curran OP, St. Pius V’s pastor, pledged the parish’s support for the mayor’s efforts saying “Pilsen will be a model. We pledge that each and every Friday we will celebrate with block parties and join one another in prayer with Mass on the street. We commit ourselves to making our streets safe and we invite other communities to do the same.”

Later that week, at home with her parents, Mireya reflected on the values her parents share with her. She says she is “into” her faith in a way many teens aren’t because of her parents’ example and the support of the faith community at St. Pius V, and she outlined a plan for her future: a degree in social work and a lifetime of service — to give back to the community what she has received.