Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Migration Madness, Part 64,368

As if finding men in black wasn't tough enough already (see below), an apparent technical glitch is forcing the deportation of a popular Irish-born priest who found his way to South Dakota a decade ago and had, he says, initially been approved for permanent residency.

Suffice it to say, the parishioners have begun to mobilize:
Every Sunday at Saint Thomas Aquinas and two other churches in the community, the pews are full of people wanting to hear Father Cathal Gallagher speak. When the community heard he would be leaving by July, they jumped into action and wanted to help.

When Patti Ward and others in Father Gallagher's congregation heard his residency was denied, it hit the community hard.

"We just don't understand what happened and he's too important to lose," said Patti Ward, one of the congregation members heading up an effort to reopen Father Gallagher's case.

It's a feeling Father Gallagher shares, as he has fallen in love with the town.

"We're there for one another, we look out for one another, it's just quality of life. And I like it," said Father Gallagher, who has been a priest in DeSmet for over 10 years.

We spoke with the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls who said priests from all over the world come to the U.S. to work and can get a permit because they are part of a religious order. They added, they have done all they can to get Father Gallagher to stay.

In 2001, the diocese applied for Father Gallagher's permanent residency and two years later, it was approved. But somewhere along the way, he's been told, a technical error occurred, which he hopes wont keep him from staying.

"I have no right to live in this country. It's your county. I depend on your graciousness and goodness of your government to allow me to live in this country," stated Father Gallagher.

It's why Patti and others are fighting to reopen the case.
Lest anyone be unaware, it's not the first time a religious worker's been made to move.

Late last year, parishioners of a Florida monastery sought to nix the deportation of a cloistered strict-observance Augustinian brother back to his native Philippines.