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Sisters of Mercy Camilla Verret, left, and Rosemary Floersch, who work with refugees in the Omaha area, stand in front of a billboard that encourages people to welcome newcomers in need from other countries.

Sisters of Mercy campaign stresses awareness of refugees

The Sisters of Mercy in Omaha are encouraging citizens and politicians at all levels to work together to welcome refugees from other lands.

A public awareness campaign with billboards in several Midwest cities includes one being displayed through June 19 at 3815 L St. in Omaha. The billboard message states: "I was a stranger refugee and you welcomed me," paraphrasing the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.

The Mercy Sisters joined nine other groups of Midwest religious sisters in the campaign, including orders in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.

"We declare ourselves welcoming communities in affirmation of Catholic tradition that holds sacred the dignity of each person," said Sister Laura Reicks, president of the West Midwest Community.

"We are challenged to take action in response to Pope Francis’ request ‘… to work concretely in welcoming refugees, drawing near to the poor … ,’" she said.

The effort also includes a postcard campaign aimed at federal, state and local government officials. Members of the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community will sign and send the postcards when they meet for their annual gathering in Chicago June 22-25.

The postcard reads: "As a person of faith, I am writing to ask you to speak out against fear-mongering and inflammatory rhetoric about refugees. I oppose any legislation that would block the resettlement of refugees of any nationality or religion in the United States of America."

People who want to lend their support in the effort are encouraged to use those words when writing to government representatives.

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