El Mensajero (English)

Posted: August 14, 2019

CNS illustration by Sistine Films

This is promotional material for the documentary "Immigrants in the Heartland: Who Are We Following,?" by filmmakers Michael McGlinn and John Altman. The documentary, which is to debut online by early August, is funded in part by the U.S. bishops' Catholic Communication Campaign.

New documentary looks at immigrants’ integration into U.S. heartland

By Mark Pattison/CNS

WASHINGTON — Filmmakers Michael McGlinn and John Altman set out to, in McGlinn’s words, “elevate the conversation” about immigration with their new documentary, “Immigrants in the Heartland: Who Are We Following?”
 
“I know that immigration, and things under that umbrella, is a very divisive, contentious issue for a lot of people today,” McGlinn said. “I felt that John and I could make a film that serves as the backdrop of how we as Catholics should be dealing with any issue in our lives that might be divisive, contentious or confusing.”
 
McGlinn and Altman, of Sistine Films, will know soon enough to what extent they’ve succeeded, as “Immigrants in the Heartland,” funded in part by the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Communication Campaign, is to make its debut online by early August.
 
“Immigrants in the Heartland” features more than a dozen voices of native-born and immigrant Americans. “It takes a lot to become an American citizen. And I am blessed to be one,” said Benedict Babaran, who was born in the Philippines. He added he especially likes the part in taking the citizenship oath that “you swear your allegiance to the Constitution of the United States. Not to the government of the United States. Because the government may change.”
 
Lucy Paw, a refugee from Myanmar, sponsored by Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, still recalls the terror in her home country faced by her and her three children: “Sometimes we cannot sleep. The gun and the weapon, deh-deh-deh-deh-deh,” she said, imitating the sound of machine gun fire. “Before we came to the United States, I prayed the rosary.”
 
Father Wesley Schawe, pastor of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Dodge City, Kansas, remembered his baptism into advocacy: a 2005 immigrant rights rally downtown with 1,000 people on hand.
 
“I get into the bed of a pickup, and I’m handed a microphone,” at which point he said a prayer for immigrant rights, Father Schawe said. “I know I lost friends that day. There were people who saw that on the news and were ticked off. … Here I was, taking a side, so to speak. And people go, ‘Look at that that little Wesley that has come back and is offering a prayer in a language I don’t understand,’” he added
 
Among others interviewed are Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas; Bishop John B. Brungardt of Dodge City, Kansas; and Bishop Carl A. Kemme of Wichita, Kansas; and Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of Kansas City St. Joseph, Missouri.
 
“What we ended up discovering was way, way, way beyond what we were expecting,” McGlinn said. The documentary will be available for rental and sale online first through whoarewefollowing.org. Then, after a year, it will be made available for television.

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