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Solidarity with refugees, immigrants

The Catholic Center at The University of Vermont in Burlington hosted a Feb. 23 evening of prayer in solidarity with the 65 million refugees and immigrants throughout the world.
At a time of uncertainty for those seeking refuge and peace in the United States, students wanted to take a stand. Participants in the vigil were able to light a candle, say a prayer, write a message to the refugees in the community or send a letter to a politician.
Brianna O’Brien, a senior environmental studies major and an organizer of the event, sought to create a space for those who regularly attend Mass and events at the Catholic Center and for others to stand together, grow in empathy and have an opportunity to reflect on “the reality of the plight of millions of refugees and even more immigrants all over the world.”
Between 30 and 50 people attended. 
“I have been fortunate to travel quite a bit and have had the opportunity to hear and see foreigners’ perspectives of the United States and the desire that so many people have to come here,” O’Brien said. “I have seen first hand some of the situations that people are trying to escape, and it is heart-breaking to me.”
She understands foreign policy and immigration laws are not simple issues, “but recent political events have shed light on the plight of these struggling people,” she said. “I took this to be an appropriate time to host this vigil.”
O’Brien said it is important to stand in solidarity with refugees because “there is so little we can do to help.” But standing together saying, “I care about you,” “This issue matters to me,”  “Your safety and health are important to me” is, for her, a way to demonstrate that the “dignity of these peoples’ lives is something that we have concerned ourselves with in some capacity.” 
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