Client Feature: The Immigration Journey of Sr. Honorata Grzeszczuk
By Sr. Mary Honorata, CSSF
I received my Green Card last week and this is a good time to recall the whole process. I came to the United States in 2011. I was born in Poland. If someone told me a few years ago that I would be living in the United States, I would not believe them. But, with time, it became more and more clear to me, that this was exactly where Jesus wanted me to be. Felician Sisters have communities all around the world, but the two main countries we serve the Lord is in Poland and in the United States. As a Felician Sister, I vowed to Almighty God to obey His will. I desire to do so with all my heart. However, when it became clear to me that to follow my vocation wholeheartedly I would have to leave my home country and join the community in North America, at first I didn’t feel comfortable with this. My family, sisters and friends are in Poland. However, after a time of discernment and struggle, in order to follow what I felt is the will of God, I needed to move to the United States.
This is the spiritual part of the story. But there is also an organizational part – going to the United States is not so simple. I knew that it is difficult to get a visa. I attempted to fill out the visa application to the U.S. embassy in Warsaw. At that time my English was poor and I was not able to fill out the online forms within allotted period of time. (I believe it was 10 minutes or so.) I remember the distress when several pages of my work online, with an open Polish-English dictionary, disappeared after the online form expired. Actually, even with the dictionary, I didn’t fully understand some of the questions. After this experience the Felician Congregation asked CLINIC to help me with the process.
From the very beginning, I was amazed with the way the CLINIC lawyers were able to organize my documents from Washington. I received a plan what I need to do, a list of documents to collect, and detailed instructions. I felt their guidance when I went to the American Embassy in Warsaw, even though they were so far away. The visit in the embassy went smoothly because of papers that were prepared by the CLINIC.
I would like to give one example. The clerk at the entrance to the embassy initially claimed that there were errors in my application. Because of this allegation, I was denied to see the visa officer and apply for a visa. I replied that the application was completed by a lawyer, so surely it was correct. This still didn’t work. I was only allowed to see the visa officer when I told them that the application was prepared in Washington, D.C. and offered that they could call my lawyer in Washington. Then I received my visa.
When I came to the United States I was not familiar with the immigration process. I did not have a clue how long and expensive it is. I only began to understand how difficult the immigration process is during the time I waited for the visa. For six long months, I just waited. I could not start a job because any employer I spoke with asked me how long I would be able to work. I could not answer, and so I remained unemployed. The uncertainty made the waiting time the most difficult in my life. However, finally I was able to come to the United States. Thanks to my Felician Congregation, and to CLINIC, who put tremendous work in my next applications, permissions, and visas, I am enjoying having my Green Card. I can now serve my Lord, free of worries, in the place where He wants me to be.