Friday, October 17, 2008

Postville Priest: "Nobody can tell me to shut up"

I'm so proud of all the pastoral ministers in Postville, IA. (They counterbalance the weirdo who "prayed" before a McCain rally last week in Iowa--we still writhe in embarrassment on "that one" [ahem] )...I continue...

As a newly ordained priest, Fr. Paul Ouderkirk served in my hometown (pop. 1,000) parish. It's a long way from there to New York City, but this summer he was featured in the New York Times since he now serves as a retired volunteer minister to the Hispanic population of Postville, IA--the people who have been decimated by an ICE raid in May.

photo caption: Fr. Paul Ouderkirk, sporting a Tshirt, speaks to fellow priest
(and my distant cousin) Fr. Leon Connelly, who attended
the pro-immigrant rally in Postville, IA in July in his wheelchair.
Please do click this to enlarge it! It's a nice Tshirt.

This week he's on CNN. The whole article is worth the trip over. Really! Meanwhile, don't miss these quotes:
  • "...he's upset that Iowa Gov. Chet Culver and other top state officials haven't set foot in Postville since the raid left the town of 2,400 'bleeding to death.'"
  • "I think every elected politician -- no exceptions -- should bow their heads in shame," Ouderkirk says. "Upset?! Yeah, I'm upset. I mean give me a break ... If the elected politicians couldn't do any better than this to come up with a good, just immigration law, they should hang their heads in shame."
  • [speaking of apprehended immigrant women who were released for humanitarian reasons to care for their children and must remain in Postville wearing ankle monitoring bracelets]: "They walk the streets here monitored wherever they go. They can't leave, they can't work, they all have children," Ouderkirk says. "So effectively, they are prisoners in our town and in this parish."
  • Ouderkirk, who came out of retirement after the raid, says it's costing his church $80,000 a month, and the church only has enough money to keep paying through the end of the year. "It's pathetic when you have what was labeled by the man who directed the raid here as a 'very successful raid.' How successful is this when it does this to the children and breaks up families?" Ouderkirk says.
  • "This is no way as a democracy to treat people. I don't care if they are legal or illegal. You don't tear families apart like this," Ouderkirk says. "The women and children we're taking care of right now are no more criminal than people driving down the street breaking the speed limit."
  • He says he's "gotten hate letters like you wouldn't believe."
  • "If people have a right to spout off like that, then I have a right to speak in defense of these poor people," he says. "This is a free country. I have a right to speak what I believe in, and I have a right to speak up for poor people whose voice is being denied."
I daresay Paul Ouderkirk is one of the good guys.
Once again, I tip my hat to Letters & Papers from Postville.


Randal Graves said...

I hate to tell Mr. Ouderirk, if that is his real name, that only Real Americans® may wear clothing with permutations of Old Glory.

Diversified yet unified. Sounds like commie talk to me. Unless you're talking about my diversified stocks. Hey, I need another 700 billion. Anyone know some undocumented workers I can exploit then use later on as a wedge issue?

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Kudos to him for speaking out so forcefully.

Peace said...

I agree completely. These people come to this country because they are poor. I would do the same thing too if I had to and in order to take care of my children. Ending world poverty would end this stupid battle over country borders.

Jan said...

I'm impressed. Thanks for telling us about him.