On April 27, 2016, at the annual Blessed are the Peacemakers Trustee Dinner, Carole Segal was awarded with the Diakonia service award. Chicagoan Carole Segal has committed herself in an extraordinary way to building bridges of understanding among the Abrahamic faiths. She is a Charter Member of the Bernardin Center Advisory Board and a longstanding friend to CTU. Mrs. Segal is also a devoted advocate of just immigration policies.
Thank you, my dear friend Andy. Thank you so very much. I am deeply moved and touched by your kind words.
I also thank the CTU trustees, the Host Committee, Fr. Mark Francis, and Fr. Don Senior. I also want to thank Fr. John Pawlikowski who is the Director of the Catholic-Jewish Studies Program at the Bernardin Center. And thank you to my dear family and friends who are sharing this special evening with me.
When I was a teenager in the 50s, I attended a camp for reform Jewish children in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. I had a lot of questions about religion and bigotry, and intolerance ofthe "Others." There I met Rabbi Herman Schaalman and we sat for many hours talking. I began to learn the common ground of our Abrahamic religions, and that we should look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Many years later, Monsignor Kenneth Velo introduced me to Joseph Cardinal Bernardin. Little did I know that Cardinal Bernardin and Rabbi Schaalman were such good friends. They would travel to the holy land, celebrating their religious faiths, and would pray together at the Wall. "A blessing to each other" is how Cardinal Bernardin characterized their friendship.
I am deeply troubled by the crisis in America today. There is so much polarization and verbal hatred of the "Others," especially the Latino immigrants. There are over 12 million undocumented immigrants here in the United States, and most of them are parents of children who are U.S. citizens, born here in America with certain unalienable rights under the 14th amendment of the United States' constitution.
I became very passionate about immigration through my personal experience with Norma Morales, and her son Hector Morales, Jr. Hector received a full-load scholarship to the engineering college at Duke University, and he graduates this May. An article was written about his award in the Denver Post. An INS agent looked up the family, and found that Norma had not renewed her green card. Before we knew it, she was in prison and fast-tracked to be deported in two weeks. She was saved because there was an outpouring of protests and support, but there were many anxious moments before this was resolved. It was a wakeup call for me to get involved, and as Rabbi Schaalman said, to take nothing for granted.
Years ago, the Archdiocese of Chicago established the Office for Immigration Affairs and Immigration Education. I thank you, Archbishop Cupich, for continuing the effort to keep these immigrant families together and for being so proactive for the immigrant. I know how diligent you were in supporting health care in Illinois for all children, regardless of their immigration status. The bill to give ALL KIDS health insurance was passed only last week. It will now give healthcare coverage to over 40,000 Illinois children.
I want to thank Catholic Charities for rescuing the unaccompanied children on our southern border who have come to America to escape violence and crime as true refugees. Did you know that Catholic Charities has given a safe haven to 900 of these child refugees here in Chicago?
I also want to thank Fr. Dennis Holschneider, President of DePaul University, who has for years educated undocumented students and allowed them to get a college degree. They graduate without having a social security number, and getting a job is difficult. Hopefully, that will change within the month when there is a positive ruling from the Supreme Court for the DACA children, which is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
I am proud to be a member of the Bernardin Center, and enjoy working with Fr. John Pawlikowski and the Interfaith Community of Chicago, to work towards humanitarian solutions. The basic tenets of the Abrahamic religions are to Love Thy Neighbor, and to do unto" Others." There is so much work yet to be done to make our world a better place. I thank you again for the Diakonia award and I hope that I shall always live up to this honor.
In closing, I want to thank you again, and wish you all Shalom and Peace and Salaam.