ITHACA, N.Y. – About 60 people made a one-mile pilgrimage through Downtown Ithaca on Saturday, Nov. 3 to show solidarity with migrants and refugees and to call for compassionate immigration policies. The walk was part of the worldwide “Share the Journey” campaign, spearheaded by Pope Francis and Caritas Internationalis.
Laurie Konwinski, coordinator of Justice & Peace ministry for Catholic Charities of Tompkins County, organized the local walk. She said the “Share the Journey” movement was meant to symbolically circle the globe in support of migrants and refugees. With participants logging almost 64,000 miles walked so far, it is on track to do so three times.
Before setting out from the Immaculate Conception Church, Konwinski urged walkers, “Let us make this pilgrimage today as a way to stand in solidarity with all those fleeing untenable situations across the world.”
Invoking the legacy of civil rights leader and longtime Ithacan Dorothy Cotton, she said the group would carry their message of justice and peace with songs along the route.
Passing through the Commons and by the monument to Martin Luther King, Jr. the group sang, “We Shall Overcome.” They carried “This Little Light of Mine” down Court Street.
The group stopped in front of Moosalla Noor Islamic Community Outreach Services to show solidarity with Muslim community members.
“Let us resolve to stand up against Islamophobia and bigotry of all kinds and let us remember that Jesus was a refugee,” said Peter Ladley, a member of the Peace and Justice Committee at St. Catherine of Siena and of Ithaca Welcomes Refugees.
Michael Smith, a member of the First Congregational Church, applauded the First Presbyterian congregation for housing English classes for immigrants during a stop in DeWitt Park. He also asked participants to pray for peace and healing for the Jewish community following the Oct. 27 massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
In front of Catholic Charities, Todd Saddler, a member the Catholic Workers and Cornell Catholic Community, recognized the charitable organization’s work resettling four refugee families in Tompkins County. He said the refugee resettlement program is currently on hold because of cuts to the number of refugees allowed to enter the U.S.
The Trump Administration capped refugee admissions at 45,000 in 2018, the lowest level since 1980, and plans to further cut that number to 30,000 for 2019.
Members of several congregations joined the walk, including Immaculate Conception, St. Catherine of Siena, All Saints and Holy Cross Catholic Churches; St. John’s and St. Thomas’ Episcopal Churches; St. Paul’s United Methodist Church; First Unitarian Church; First Presbyterian Church; Ithaca Friends Meeting; and the First Congregational Church.
As the pilgrimage mile wrapped up at Immaculate Conception, a contingent of walkers kept going to stand in solidarity at Temple Beth-El.