In 1985 the members of the St. John of God community embarked on an eight-month course of prayer and discernment regarding the plight of the Central American refugees coming to the Bay Area. Members studied Archbishop John R. Quinn's 1983 Pastoral Letter on Central America, participated in house meetings in which refugees shared their stories, and informed themselves about moral and legal issues regarding political asylum. In January 1986, over 90% of the parishioners voted in favor of Sanctuary. Since Palm Sunday 1986, our community has reaffirmed the covenant, which articulates the vision of faith taught by our brothers and sisters of El Salvador and Guatemala.
Christ's call is to reach out to our brothers and sisters in need. In response to this call, the members of the St. John of God Community enter into this covenant to provide sanctuary -- support, protection, and advocacy -- to Salvadoran and Guatemalan refugees who request haven out of well-founded fear of persecution and possibly death if they are returned to their homeland. We do this out of concern for the welfare of these refugees, regardless of their official immigration status. . . St. John of God Covenant of Public Sanctuary, Palm Sunday, 1986
As in the early years, Sanctuary work focuses on advocacy, emergency aid and accompaniment for immigrants in San Francisco and the Bay Area and maintaining our long-time international solidarity with marginalized communities and organizations in El Salvador.