Friday, May 14, 2010

Postville Second Anniversary

Three members of Illinois Maya Ministry made a pilgrimage to Postville, Iowa, to mark the second anniversary of the ICE raid of May 12, 2008.  Our main purpose was to be present, pray, and show our concern through showing up.

Our first stop was for the chapel service at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.  We were present to listen to mothers whose families were split up by the raid witness to their experience and suffering.  We were able to greet Campus pastor David Vasquez, whom we had met at the IMM forum last month in Rockford.  We enjoyed a time of fellowship and greeting after the service.  David talks about this service at this address:

From Luther College we drove to Congregational UCC in Decorah.  There we talked with Rev. Matthew Perkins who brought us up to date on the response of the religious community in the last year. 

We stopped at St Bridget's Church in Postville for a time of prayers.  Father Paul greeted us and we let him know that we were there for a pilgrimage and regretted that we could not stay for the commemoration service to be held at St Bridget's at 5 pm that evening.

Next, our little delegation stopped to see Rev. Gary Catterson, pastor of the Presbyterian Church there in Postville, to learn about what developments were taking place.  He told us about how AgriStar has taken over from Agriprocessors.  The work force is now about 1/3 of what it was before.  The new workers coming to town are not as family oriented as those who were there before, and this is making for some tension in the community.  One of the local banks has some 60 foreclosed homes, and while many towns have foreclosures this large number seems to be at least in part a result of the raid and the reduced workforce.  We thanked Gary for his insight, and shared in a time of prayer before we left.

We stopped for lunch at the local Mexican Restaurant.  We had the place to ourselves.  As we drove back to Rock Island, our beginning point, we talked in the car about how our visits in Postville are similar to those made in Central America, and how everyone we spoke with thanked us for our support and concern.

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