Story and photos courtesy of The Florida Catholic.
MIRAMAR | Dozens of people joined Archbishop Thomas Wenski on the grounds of St. Stephen Church here to celebrate the opening and blessing of Catholic Legal Service’s new office Sept. 29.
“This space used to be a convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph,” said St. Stephen’s pastor, Father Alejandro Roque of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate. “Eventually it turned into a seminary for the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and most recently it served as an Emmaus retreat house.”
It was not until Randolph McGrorty, executive director of the archdiocese’s Catholic Legal Services approached Father Roque that he considered the possibility of the building being used as office space.
“It was an answer from God,” said Father Roque. “This parish serves so many demographics that Catholic Legal Services being here is a perfect fit.”
“This area has been in transition for the last decade and the immigrant population has grown especially in the Hispanic and Haitian community,” said Callan Garcia, Catholic Charities Legal Services’ managing attorney. “It really is a win-win having our office here now.”
The office will be Catholic Legal Services’ third location in the archdiocese. Other locations include downtown Miami and Doral. During the blessing ceremony, Archbishop Wenski opened with a prayer and walked throughout the office space sprinkling holy water.
“We pray for the success of those that work so diligently here with our community,” said Archbishop Wenski. “Catholic Legal Services has been a lifeline to so many people in South Florida. Catholic Legal Services has been a beacon of hope for many. Because of Catholic Legal Services, people have been united with their loved ones, people can have access to gainful employment, people can become U.S. citizens and all this can be done because of their dedicated volunteers and their staff.”
At the conclusion of the blessing, Catholic Legal Services employees and volunteers wasted no time getting to work, immediately hosting a “DREAMers workshop.”
“Our duty is to counsel and advise them so that they can understand the law in preparing their documents,” said Myriam Mezadieu, the agency’s administrator. “We want to represent them and make sure they are well represented by a member of the staff.”
Catholic Legal Services has been offering similar workshops throughout the archdiocese for the last several months, assisting undocumented young adults who were brought to the United States as babies or young children and are now attempting to see if they qualify for temporary legal status under President Barack Obama’s executive order.
The focus of the workshop was to review paperwork for deferred action for the “DREAMer” kids. “Another goal of this event was to let the community know that we are here and we are ready to serve,” said Garcia.