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Changemakers: Mercy Sisters dedicated to helping Chicago's asylum seekers

Change Makers: Catherine's Caring Cause
Changemakers: Catherine's Caring Cause 03:23

CHICAGO (CBS)-- The arrival of asylum seekers in Chicago has overwhelmed the city for nearly two years since busses began arriving from Texas. 

Thousands of migrants have been forced to stay in temporary shelters like airports, churches, and police stations. The latest data from the city shows 35,900 migrants have arrived since August 31, 2022.

As city officials struggle to find safe, long-term housing, nonprofits and community organizations have stepped up to help, including "Catherine's Caring Cause," which is led by Sisters of Mercy Pat Murphy and JoAnn Persch. 

The organization works to provide apartments, furniture, clothes, food, legal assistance, and more to newly arrived migrants. 

"This is our life's work, to reach out in some way and help those who are vulnerable," said Sister Pat Murphy, "And right now the group that seems the most vulnerable here in Chicago are the many, many immigrants coming into Chicago, seeking freedom, leaving their country, which they don't want to do, but they have to do to in order to obtain freedom." 

Murphy and Persch, along with their team of volunteers, helped their first family get an apartment in October of 2022.  

The family of six from Sierra Leone took a boat to Brazil, walked to Texas, and then arrived by bus to Chicago.  

"Catherine's Caring Cause" supports nine families, including 20 children, in apartments, with hopes of supporting more families soon.

"Even though we're helping nine families, soon we'll be helping 12, it's only a grain of sand in the whole issue," said Sister JoAnn Persch.

"Catherine's Caring Cause" is named in recognition of Catherine McAuley who founded the Sisters of Mercy in 1831.  Sister Murphy will be 95 in April and Sister Persch will turn 90 in June. They say they have no intention of slowing down.  

Click here  to help. They are looking for donations, volunteers, and mentors.

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