The Newman University founding order, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC), has opened their arms to asylum-seekers, providing them with care and hospitality at the ASC Wichita Center.
The ASC strives to find opportunities in which they can enhance their mission and at the end of June, Sister JoAnn Mark received a call from ASC Leadership Conference of Women Religious asking if there was any space available for the sisters to offer hospitality to asylum-seekers as they waited for the outcome of their asylum petitions.
A committee of five was created to discuss the possible ways in which they could help. The committee consisted of Mark along with Sisters Bernardine Wessel, Diana Rawlings and Fran Schumer and Administrator of the ASC Wichita Center Greg Lohkamp.
After dialogue took place between the sisters at the center and the ASC Leadership Team, it was decided that the order would open the Father Stan Rother Hospitality Center for those in need. The center was named after Rother because of his commitment to the people of other cultures that he served in Guatemala before being martyred.
In early August, the first asylum-seeking family was welcomed to the hospitality center. The French-speaking family is originally from the Congo. They are awaiting a hearing on their asylum claim in immigration court, which can take years.
The sisters enrolled the four children in school and provide them with homework assistance in the evenings. The sisters also help with transportation needs, making connections with local social service agencies and providing weekend activities for the family.
The center has the capacity to house up to 10 units. Each unit is either a family or an individual.
Schumer explained, “The goals are to help connect them with services in the community that can enable them to move out. We see our program as a transition program. By connecting them with services in the community that can help them get housing and employment, they can move into a more stable situation.
“It’s really heart-rending when you hear their stories and what they’ve gone through. And just the resilience of the human spirit … you literally have to leave your home and not know where you’re going or where you might end up and you have to trust in people,” said Schumer.
It is intended that the asylum-seekers stay in the center for 90 days but the time frame is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
The best part, Schumer said, is “seeing the family that we currently housing feeling more comfortable and being able to be more themselves as they’ve gotten to know us and trust us. And their deep gratitude for the fact that we’re providing this help to them.”
The sisters have made a one-year commitment to the mission. “We feel that it very much fits into our mission as ASC to be God’s compassionate presence to those most in need,” said Schumer.