DACA “Dreamers” are a Gift to the Church & Country

Catholic Extension is proud to invest in “Dreamers” and their future, through our various leadership and ministry programs throughout the country. Collectively, these Dreamers are having a profound and positive impact in our faith communities throughout the country. 

Following last week’s Supreme Court decision on the fate of the DACA program, we spoke with a very special “Dreamer,” Jessica Maciel Hernandez, who is bringing so many young people to the faith in Iowa.

Since arriving to the U.S. at age 7, the Catholic Church in Iowa has played a central role in Jessica’s life story. Several years ago, when a religious sister at her parish encouraged her, as a young professional with a college degree, to think about giving back to the Church she loves through full-time ministry, Jessica accepted the challenge.  

When the decision was made I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and relief, and a great deal of peace.”

Jessica Maciel Hernandez

Catholic Extension provided the seed money for the creation of Jessica’s current position at the Diocese of Des Moines, IA as Coordinator of Hispanic Youth Ministry, where she has served with creativity and passion. Currently, Catholic Extension is proudly funding Jessica’s master’s degree scholarship at Boston College’s School of Ministry and Theology, to give her the tools and knowledge to grow even more as a professional lay leader in the Catholic Church.

We recently caught up with Jessica (in between her classes), to ask her to share her perspective on the impact of this Supreme Court decision on her life and the lives of the 700,000+ “Dreamers” around the nation.

How do you personally feel about the Supreme Court ruling on DACA?

“Before any decision was made about DACA there was a lot of anxiety in regards to what the aftermath could have looked like. This would have possibly included me being separated from my family, not being able to continue my ministry in the same way, nor be able to provide for my family. When the decision was made I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and relief, and a great deal of peace. All the emotions of when DACA was first established returned when the decision was made last week, and it felt like we all got another chance at having a life here in the U.S.”

What emotions do you feel for your fellow Dreamers and their future?

“I feel happy that we can all rejoice and stand in solidarity with each other, but the fight is not over because for the longest time we have been waiting and needing a permanent solution. This has been our home for more than half of our lives, and we have helped build up our communities and families. Any thought of not being able to do that is disappointing and not encouraging at all. We encourage each other, because that is what we have done all this time, and we are ready for what the future brings because that’s what we’ve been doing all these years.”

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