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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

671 In Immokalee's immigrant community, the Christmas story unfolds among us

Day 671 Sunday, January 16, 2022

In Immokalee's immigrant community, the Christmas story unfolds among us

(A refugee family from Haiti celebrates Christmas at a soup kitchen in Immokalee, Florida. The twins were born two weeks after the family arrived in the country)

But First, an announcement from Marcie Dahlen

I'm looking for helpers to make tie fleece blankets for children who are living with their families at the Family Service Center in Santa Rosa operated by Catholic Charities. Each blanket takes approximately 2 hours to make. No sewing involved. All You need is a pair of scissors and a ruler.


There are 22 children between the ages of 2-10 living at the Center with their families. They are sheltered while working on finding permanent housing and/or jobs. Staff at Center works with these families for weeks or months to that end. The Center is presently in lockdown so blankets will have to be stored until delivered. JoAnn Fabrics had tie blankets kits on sale until yesterday, so I bought 25. Sale price was $15. If you are able to help or would like more information, call or email Marcie Dahlen 303-330-2804,

And now to our Daily Reflection

Before Christmas becomes a memory, let me share how the Christmas story is being lived out today in a poor little town in Florida. Immokalee (home of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers) is an unincorporated farming community made up of Mexicans, Guatemalans and Haitian immigrants. Jesus is there. The Gospel is alive. One just has to look.

In early fall there was a tsunami of Haitian refugees arriving in Immokalee from the Texas border. It has slowed to a small, steady stream. Most of these refugees are young couples with very young children. Many of the women are pregnant. And this is where Luke's Gospel comes alive, where Jesus is revealed:

"And this will be a sign for you."

Mary and Joseph's journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem most likely took about five long days. The young Haitian couples coming from Chile and Brazil travel more than 7,000 miles, mostly on foot, for two or three months. Mary was in the last weeks of her pregnancy. These young mothers-to-be are also in the last months of their pregnancies and probably have received no prenatal care. Upon arrival in Immokalee, the young families "come to the church" seeking help and are either "with child" or have recently given birth.

"In those days a decree went out that the whole world should be enrolled" (Luke 2:1).

When the Haitians arrive at the Texas border, they are registered and placed in detention. Then, they are sent to addresses of family or friends who have agreed to accept them. The reality in this very poor community is that, upon arrival, they are told there was

"no room for them"

because the host families are also very poor.

The Thursday after Thanksgiving, a Holy Family visited our center. A young man and his nine-month pregnant wife said they had left detention in Texas and went to stay with relatives in Miami, but these relatives in Miami told them they had no room. They brought them to Immokalee "because there was work."

But the law says undocumented people are not permitted to work. No family, no friends, no home. So they slept in the woods. Then they were told,

"Go to the church. The church will help you."

Our center does not provide housing. I phoned three local hotels hoping to offer temporary shelter to the couple. Each one said, "We have no room." We found a Haitian woman with two children in a two-bedroom apartment who offered this couple one of the bedrooms until they could find more permanent housing.

"While they were there, the time came for her to have her child" (Luke 2:6).

Two other women — one from Brazil and one from Chile — arrived in Immokalee with their spouses in the days before Christmas. Both had been nine months pregnant when they arrived in Texas in late November. Marie Ange delivered her premature baby girl the day she crossed the border. Nadia gave birth in detention two days after her arrival at the border. Both had come seeking help to get their babies’ birth certificates, which they were not able to obtain while in Texas.

The Haitian asylum seekers continue to find their way to Immokalee. God continues to speak to them through "angels" who offer good news of help and acceptance. These courageous young men and women are not afraid. They simply trust that God is with them.

"Do not be afraid for I proclaim to you good news of great joy for all the people" (Luke 2:10).

So, look around! Emmanuel is "God-with-us." God is revealing the Good News everywhere we look. We just have to have eyes to see and ears to hear.

After the shepherds visited the child, "they made known the message that had been told and all who heard it were amazed." May we, like the shepherds "glorify and praise God for all we have heard and seen."

Judy Dohner

Sr. Judy Dohner is a Sister of the Humility of Mary from Villa Maria, Pennsylvania. She has worked with migrants and immigrants for the past 30 years. She returned to the U.S. in 2018 after ministering in Haiti for 16 years and is currently working with Haitian immigrants and refugees in Immokalee, Florida.

Announcement about Bill Boorman by Dan Lambert

As of 11:15 AM Saturday, January 15 PST I just spoke with Larry and he gave me the following update about Bill‘s condition.

On Wednesday, January 12, Bill was transported from Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa to the heart unit at Kaiser hospital in San Francisco. They are running tests to determine whether he is a good candidate for a procedure to replace the aortic valve in his heart.

Victoria has assured me that the procedure involves the same technology as an angioplasty by going in through an artery in the groin and is a very well practiced procedure.

There is no telephone in Bill‘s room and the only way that Larry can talk with Bill is to call the floor nurse and have her give Bill a cell phone to use. I don’t know the details of how to do this but I will ask Larry and also see about getting Bill’s cell phone in his hands. See below. As you may know, before Bill left Memorial Hospital they installed a pacemaker to regulate his heart as he had a very low pulse. I think that was about a week ago now. According to Victoria, his pulse rate after the fall in his apartment was about 30. Saturday, January 15 update 2 PM PST I spoke with the nurse at Kaiser Hospital, who is attending Bill,and she let me speak with Bill briefly. Unfortunately, the connection was breaking up badly. So I didn’t really get any sense of how he is doing from him. The nurse said that he had eaten breakfast and she asked him while we were on the phone if he wanted to go for a walk on the ward and he said yes. The nurse informed me that Bill‘s procedure to replace his aortic valve is scheduled for Tuesday morning, January 18. She was concerned that if I sent his cell phone via UPS that it would get delayed or lost somehow. She also said that she would try to get a landline phone to install in Bill‘s room. I asked her to let me know when that is done and what number it is. She said that she would.

Based on my poor connection with Bill on the cell phone, I suggest that we all wait to call him until they get a landline phone installed in his room. I will follow up on that to make sure it happens. I will also inform the community of the phone number when I get it.


Dan Lambert

Announcement about Melva Freeman by Pat O'Connor

I spoke with Melva a few days ago and she sounded great. She has been in a very good facility in S F. And Melva is able to take advantage of the programs there. She speaks very highly of this hospital. In fact she has been doing so well that she’s going to be transferred to a step down program at a different hospital in Sacramento.

So she appreciates all the prayers that we’ve been sending her way.

All the best, Pat O’Connor

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