At the recent Provincial Assembly of the Missionary Sisters, one session focused on the way in which Cabrinian ministries are addressing the pressing issues of immigration, migration, refugees, asylum seekers and human trafficking.
This week, we continue our series of in-depth looks at individual Cabrinian ministries and we explore how they are responding to the needs of those who are experiencing upheaval in their lives due to war, poverty, violence, immigration or captivity.
Sacred Heart Center for New Americans
The Sacred Heart Center for New Americans provides English as a second language and basic computer instruction to adult immigrant of the Lower Hudson Valley Area. The school was established in 2012. The program offers a free on-going language and skill training opportunity for students who are motivated and willing to commit to continuing education.
The primary catchment area that the Center services are the towns of Highland, New Paltz, Port Ewen and Kingston, NY. The majority of immigrants in this area are from Mexico. Most are not new immigrants, but, have been living and working in the towns, villages and farms.
At the Center, they encounter both documented and undocumented immigrants. Documented immigrants acquire low paying jobs due to the lack of language and job training. Undocumented immigrants usually find jobs on the farms and are afforded housing and early childhood learning and schooling for their children. Both groups tend to have a stable but poor living situation. Their children progress well in the school system, while parents often remain illiterate and unskilled.
Their ESL and computer program works in conjunction with BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services), Catholic Charities of Kingston and local parishes. BOCES provides a certified ESL teacher, regular testing and school supplies while the sisters provide computer training and augment the learning experience with on-line vocabulary, reading and life-skill programs. The basic ESL course requires any where from three to five years to complete. Once the student reached the level of completion they are able to attend adult vocational training programs at BOCES educational center free of charge. The requirements are good attendance and continuation in the ESL program for continued support and assistance in the course of studies offered at BOCES.
The Missionary Sisters maintain a personal relationship with the students and are able to make appropriate referrals for various needs as they arise, from assistance with immigration status, citizenship, food stamps, nutritional instruction, clothing and food pantries.