Painesville Catholic church sees seven church members deported in six months
Posted August 2
Painesville, OH — A Painesville mother of four was scheduled to be deported back to Mexico by federal immigration authorities Tuesday.
Beatriz Morelos is the latest deportation in Painesville, but for the large Hispanic community there, this is a daily threat they face, all living in fear that anyone of them may be next.
There are 1500 Hispanic families that attend church services at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Painesville. Morelos' family is one of them. According to church leaders, there have been seven church members deported in six months. Pews that are normally packed are seeing entire families disappear.
"It's very sad when you see that empty pew, when you remember that family who was there, because it's not just her, it's her entire family," said Oscar Ornelas, a Mexican immigrant and St. Mary's Church Employee.
Ornelas is an American citizen. Since the beginning of 2017, he has watched a seemingly constant stream of deportations unfold in Painesville. His friends and church members taken away, one by one.
"Our people live with faith, with hope," he said.
"Every time that we wake up, we always do the sign of the cross and then we ask God to let us come back good, home," said a woman who attends St. Mary's and lives in Painesville as an undocumented immigrant.
She has lived in Painesville for 17 years. She moved there from Mexico when she was 20 and has been a part of the Painesville community ever since with her husband and three kids. She is friends with Morelos.
"I have my own kids and I just talked to my son about it because he saw her son at soccer practice and my son was like, 'I don't know what I'd do if I was in his spot,'" she said.
"People are extra cautious, people don't even want to take a risk," said St. Mary's Priest, Father Chris Zerucha.
Zerucha has watched as seven church members have been deported from his parish. He says many families don't return, because the memories are too difficult to bear.
"To see my family get broken up, it's just like any other community, when someone leaves, you feel it and what they once contributed is no longer there," he said.
Church leadership had a long conversation with Congressman David Joyce's staff. According to church leaders, Joyce's office reached out to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) but was unable to prevent Morelos' deportation.
"Maybe god is listening to us, to our prayers, and maybe he's going to work into David Joyce's heart or somebody else," said the woman who has been living in Painesville as an undocumented worker for 17 years.