Migrant Ministry of the Catholic Parishes of Oak Park

Our St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish is partnering with Ascension and St. Edmund Parish to form an organization that is called Migrant Ministry. Our goal is to work toward hosting migrants. Currently and as of January 2024, we are providing assistance to migrants and asylum seekers at the former St. Edmund School (now St. Edmund Center) located at 200 S. Oak Park Avenue in Oak Park, IL 60302.

The Migrant Ministry was created in June 2023 to respond to a humanitarian crisis in our area by providing food, clothing, and showers to asylum seekers who arrived in Chicago with very little. Powered entirely by volunteers, the ministry welcomes adults and children with breakfast and donated clothing each Tuesday and Thursday morning. In addition, the ministry connects migrants with medical providers, aid to find housing or temporary shelter, and other assistance to settle into the community. The Migrant Ministry began in the St. Catherine-St. Lucy Rectory, and since January 2024 is housed at St. Edmund School.

The Migrant Ministry is led by Celine and Don Woznica, Margie Rudnik, and a leadership team of volunteers – For more information, please contact Margie Rudnik at (margaretrudnik@gmail.com) or Celine Woznica (immigrantministry@gmail.com).

The Oak Park Family Transitional Shelter (OPFTS) is an initiative from the Village of Oak Park Communities that provides safe, temporary housing to migrant families that were living at The Carleton Hotel and the West Cook YMCA in February 2024 – CLICK HERE for latest updates regarding this Transitional Shelter!



VIDEO – Recent Concert to Support our Migrant Ministry
Excerpts / Clips from “La Fe Mueve Montañas” Concert on February 27, 2024

This video was created by the Archdiocese of Chicago – “La Hora Católica: Misa y Más” aired on March 10, 2024


VIDEO – What Our Migrant Ministry is about!
St. Edmund Center in Oak Park provides Services for Migrants


MINISTRY UPDATE – APRIL 14, 2024
Migrant Ministry Continues!

The transitional shelter at Centro San Edmundo (in the former St. Edmund School Building) has now closed as of April 5. Our congratulations to the Oak Park Resettlement Team that so quickly and effectively relocated the many families.

Our Migrant Ministry continues. We continue to run the program on Tuesday and Thursday mornings hosting our migrant brothers and sisters and of course the children, many children. We invite them for breakfast, for a change of clothes and shoes and coats. Then there is the opportunity to sit quietly over a cup of chocolate or coffee and tell their stories to the many volunteers there to listen. Even if the listening is through cell phones using Google translate. The link to everything that is needed is below. Right now, one of the biggest needs is blankets and towels. They don’t need to be new but usable.

Finally, the Housing Team continues to accompany families and will be adding two new families in April and May. We continue to need mentors to accompany them. Spanish speaking is not necessary.

MINISTRY UPDATE – MARCH 24, 2024
I want to wash their feet…

One of my favorite Holy Week traditions is the washing of each other’s feet on Holy Thursday. Volunteer footwashers process up the aisle carrying white basins, pitchers of water, and clean towels. They spread out across the sanctuary and wash each other’s feet, then invite the congregation to come and have their feet washed. It’s a powerful act of humility and service to wash the feet of the other and allow another to wash your own feet. In this act, we recreate Christ’s call to us to be humble servants and find Christ in one another.

Those of us involved in the Migrant Ministry have found Christ in our brother and sister asylum-seekers. I want to wash their feet, the feet that crossed seven countries and 3000 miles across rivers, over mountains, and through deserts. I want to wash the feet that plodded through the deadly Darien Gap, 66 miles of thick jungle between Colombia and Panama. I want to wash the feet that were cut, twisted, bruised, and blistered but trudged on, carrying children and hopes for a safer and better life in the United States.

I want to wash the feet of Wilmary, a single mother who made the trip with a toddler and a nine-year-old blind son.

I want to wash the feet of Yeiny who lost her husband in the Darien Gap but continued the journey with her three children so as not to shatter the dream they had shared.

I want to wash the feet of Jose Leandro, an indigenous man who fled the drug cartels in Colombia. In the photo above, he holds his tattered and worn shoes before throwing them away because he received new shoes in Chicago.

I want to wash the feet of Luis, battered and bruised because of his sexuality.

Holy Thursday means more to me this year than ever before.


MINISTRY UPDATE – MARCH 17, 2024
Faith Moves Mountains

For those of you who weren’t able to attend the concert, La Fe Mueve Montanas (Faith Moves Mountains) on February 27, 2024, above is an embedded video which will give you a flavor of the evening. This video was created by the Archdiocese of Chicago for their program, “La Hora Católica: Misa y Más,” and aired on March 10, 2024.

We are grateful to GIA Publications, Inc., the sponsor of this program, and to the musicians who participated. It is still possible to make donations to Migrant Ministry through this video.

Click to See More Pictures

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTThank you to everyone who has so kindly donated to the Migrant Ministry! Because of your overwhelming generosity, WE ARE ABLE TO PUT CLOTHING DONATIONS ON PAUSE FOR NOW. You have kept hundreds of families warm and safe in the winter months. Please note that the migrants’ needs will change as we head into Spring – and we will provide an update in the next few weeks. Thank you for your continued support!


DROP-OFF ITEMS DONATIONS

Only these items are needed – We ask you please to stick to this list:

  • Winter boots for men, women, and children are needed as well as shoes.
  • Winter Jackets.
  • Sweatpants especially for men and boys and leggings for women.
  • Hoodies, and layering items, socks, gloves, hats, blankets, suitcases, and sleeping bags.
  • New underwear for men, women, and children – Boxer briefs for men in small and medium – Underwear and sports bras for women in small and medium – Underwear for children in all sizes, particularly for boys.

We accept donations of items to the alley door of St. Edmund School on Mondays from 9 am to 12 Noon. Parking will be available across the street behind St. Edmund Church.


ONLINE ITEMS DONATIONS – AMAZON WISH LIST

Thank you for your support of the Migrant Ministry. Currently, we are in great need of gym shoes for children, men, and women (smaller sizes) and men’s T-shirts, sweatpants, and athletic pants. For more information, email immigrantministry@gmail.com.

We are also in need of items noted on the Amazon Wish List found by clicking on the button below. Items do not need to be purchased from Amazon; it is merely a list of needed items.

Donations may be dropped off on Monday mornings from 9 am to 12 pm at Centro San Edmundo previously known as St. Edmund School, 200 S Oak Park Avenue, Oak Park, IL. Please enter from the Pleasant Avenue door.

Click to Donate Through Amazon


CLOTHING AND PERSONAL CARE ITEMS

Please click of the button below for a current list of clothing and personal care items that we are accepting. We ask that you donate only the items listed here. Thank you!

Donations may be dropped off on Monday mornings from 9 am to 12 pm at Centro San Edmundo previously known as St. Edmund School, 200 S. Oak Park Avenue, Oak Park, IL. Please enter from the Pleasant Avenue door.

Click for Clothing / Personal Care Items


MONETARY DONATIONS

If you would like to help by donating money toward the purchase of items needed, or if you would like to help defray expenses to provide meals and clothing items for the migrants, you can donate online through the GiveCentral link below OR send donations to St. Catherine-St Lucy and St Giles Parish, 1025 Columbian Ave, Oak Park, IL 60302. Include a note that the donation is for the “Migrant Ministry”.

Click to Donate Online

Thank you for your generous hearts!


VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!

The most important needs are housing and jobs. We continue to look for apartments to house families. The families that we are hosting are doing well, and there is a continuing need for mentors to accompany these families. With the new Temporary Protective Status for asylum-seekers from Venezuela, we are trying to find ways to help them complete those applications.

If you are interested in volunteering for Migrant Ministry, the accompaniment of the migrant families we have resettled into Oak Park, or if you know of an available home or apartment, please contact Margie Rudnik at margaretrudnik@gmail.com, or Celine Woznica at immigrantministry@gmail.com.

Other Ways to Assist (Google Doc)


CLICK TO JOIN THE TEAM OR DONATE!