Sisters Advocate for Immigrants' Rights and the Rights of All People at Nyack, NY Rally
On Saturday, January 20, 2018, Dominican Sisters of Sparkill and friends along with Board Members, teachers, and leadership from One to One Learning* attended a Women’s and Immigrants’ Rights Rally held in Nyack, New York. The rally was held in solidarity with the Women’s Rights marches that took place throughout the country that day, and, like those larger gatherings, it took on a general human rights focus with messages, banners, and chants proclaiming the rights of all people.
One of the rally’s featured speakers was Sr. Cecilia LaPietra, OP, Dominican Sister of Sparkill and the Executive Director of One to One Learning, the Rockland County-based non-profit organization that provides English classes and supportive services for immigrants to empower them to reach their full potential. Not one for the spotlight, Sr. Cecilia originally declined an offer to speak at the rally. But when learning that her colleague from the Rockland County Immigration Coalition had also been asked to speak and was unable to do so, she knew someone had to be the voice for immigrants’ rights that day, so she committed to addressing the crowd. Sister Cecilia shared about her experience, “It was great to see lots of people there, young kids with their parents holding banners, and people expressing interest in everybody’s rights. That was the focus of the rally: we’re all brothers and sisters. We’re losing that message right now because there’s so much division in our country. I felt compelled to speak because of what’s going on in the US at this time and I was really honored to do so. I believe including the topic of immigrant rights really encouraged many people to come to the rally.”
Sr. Cecilia LaPietra addressing the crowd at the
Nyack Women's & Immigrants' Rights Rally.
The following are excerpts from Sr. Cecilia’s January 20th speech:
“…what a year it has been. Power and control has taken over. I do not need to enumerate the steps that have been taken toward the breakdown of our democracy.
“But breakdown leads to breakthrough and it is in and through the people that change will come and has come. The "Me Too Movement" has brought the rights of women to front stage. The Dreamers have brought the rights of immigrants to Congress. All of these are stepping stones toward progress.
“However, it really doesn't start out there. Change comes in concentric circles of energy that flow from the center. The center is in each of your hearts. God's presence in your hearts is the presence of Love. Each one of you is made in the image and likeness of God who is Love. There is no woman/man, slave/free, rich/poor, illegal alien/citizen, gay/straight, young/old, friend/enemy, whole/handicapped, Republican/Democrat, real/fake news writers. All are made in God's image; labels keep us from that central belief…If we truly believe the truth that God, who is love, abides in us and we are conscious of this in our daily undertakings, imagine the effect on our relationships.
“Each of us at times forgets to live out of the essence of our center. But when this happens, as members of family, church, or community, we are called to responsibility. So it is that we as citizens of the United States at this present time are called to take a stand to join with other organizations to correct the action and attitudes of those who are not working out of the center of Love. Their center is of power and control, using all the negative labels they can to stir unrest and divisiveness.”
The rally was organized by Vivean Yaker, a Rockland County resident and volunteer teacher at One to One Learning. Inspired by her experience working with immigrants at One to One, which has exposed Vivean to the daily realities faced by these populations, she made certain to include immigrants’ rights as a focus at the rally.
* One to One Learning is a sponsored ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill.
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