News Detail
Francisco Diaz, a 41-year-old carpenter from Miami, biked over 1,000 miles to raise awareness for immigration reform.
Pedaling for Dreams: Activist Bikes to Washington, D.C., for Immigration Reform

May 16, 2014 — Francisco Diaz, a 41-year-old carpenter, recently biked over 1,000 miles from his Miami home to Washington, D.C., to deliver one small item to President Obama: a pen. Diaz completed the ride last month to promote “Pedaling for 20 Million Dreams,” his campaign to raise awareness of the need for immigration reform. 

Diaz’s hope was to deliver the pen to President Obama so he could sign an Executive Order placing a moratorium on deportations. “In my hand, a pen doesn’t have much power, but in the hand of the president it could change so many things for so many people and families,” Diaz said. According to Diaz, the 20 million referenced in the title of his campaign represent the 11 million people deported each year, along with their family and friends.

Diaz, who is originally from Mexico City, has experienced the effects of the current immigration system firsthand. When his brother-in-law was deported two years ago, it had a devastating impact on Diaz’s seven-year-old niece Emily, a star student. “The teachers began to realize that something had happened as her grades started to fall,” Diaz said. Emily’s three-year-old sister Fernanda also began having nightmares and couldn’t understand why her father had left. Propelled by his family’s own suffering and the experiences of others he met along the way, Diaz embarked on his bike-riding journey.

He was met with the hospitality of many faith communities and well-wishers at his stops between Miami and D.C., including the Jesuit parish of St. Raphael the Archangel in North Carolina. At Sacred Heart Church in Richmond, Va., another Jesuit parish, Diaz met Jesuit Father Jack Podsiadlo, who was participating in the Fast for Families event for comprehensive immigration reform. When Diaz mentioned that he needed help articulating his experiences and his plea to the White House for action on deportations, Fr. Podsiadlo encouraged him, “You don’t need anything, because all you need is already within you — it’s already in your head.”

Diaz said he felt the Spirit move within him during his 5:30 a.m. daily prayer the following morning, helping him compose his letter to President Obama, which read in part:

“I have faith and hope that soon the cries of an immigrant people that suffers will end.
I have faith and hope that no more fathers will be separated from their families.
I have faith and hope that no more mothers will be separated from their sons.
I have faith and hope that the most sacred aspect of a society, the family bond, will remain united.
I have faith and hope that the American Dream will return to being the American Dream.”

While Diaz was unable to deliver his pen to the president, he continues to look for ways to support the people he met on his journey and advocate for the rights and dignity of those affected by current U.S. immigration policy.





Recent News

October 17, 2018 — On Oct. 20, the Catholic Church will beatify Jesuit Father Tiburcio Arnaiz Muñoz in Málaga, Spain, where he is recognized as “apostle of the city.”

October 17, 2018 — On October 14, Pope Francis canonized a pope and a martyr: Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, El Salvador.

October 15, 2018 — Prevain Devendran was selected to be a collaborator at the 2018 Synod of Bishops.

October 12, 2018 — On this day in 1963, U.S. Jesuit Father Walter Ciszek arrived in New York after 23 years in Russia in Siberian labor camps and Soviet prisons.

October 5, 2018 — Known as "The Magis," the guesthouse provides a place where Jesuits and other religious can recharge.

October 4, 2018 — Pope Francis asked bishops to be bold, honest, open-minded, charitable and, especially, prayerful as they begin the three-week meeting.

October 3, 2018 — Today the Society of Jesus celebrates the feast of St. Francis Borgia, SJ (1510-1572), the third Superior General of the Society of Jesus.

view all news

Search news

Publications
Since St. Ignatius bought a printing press in 1556, the Jesuits have been involved in communications. Today the Society of Jesus publishes a number of award-winning journals and publications. Click below to access our latest issues.

America 10/15/18

America 10/1/18

America 9/17/18



White House Jesuit Retreat Center
The White House Jesuit Retreat Center is located on a beautiful 80-acre campus on the bluffs of the Mississippi River in St. Louis.