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Sign outside of south Omaha church has many feeling hurt, angry

A sign posted outside of St. Mary’s Church in South Omaha over the weekend is making people feel anything but welcome.
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A sign posted outside of St. Mary’s Church in south Omaha over the weekend is making people feel anything but welcome.(Courtesy photo)

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - It’s a place that’s supposed to make people feel welcome.

“It didn’t feel right, reading it and what they were trying to state and it kind of threw me off because it’s a church,” says a South Omaha resident.

But a sign posted outside of St. Mary’s Church in South Omaha over the weekend is making people feel anything but welcome.

It says “heaven has strict immigration laws, hell has open borders.”

“It’s kind of letting you know that because of your background that you can’t be let into heaven.”

The church is at 36th and Q, the location of the church and the message of the sign has people scratching their heads.

“36th and Q is the epicenter for of the immigrant experience of the midlands,” said Jose “Chato” Garcia, South Omaha historian.

Gary Kastrick is a South Omaha resident. He also started the South Omaha Mural Project, dedicated to honoring immigrants in the community.

He says the message posted is hateful and he says it’s not a message the community stands behind.

“There’s no place for this. I mean, it’s not even an inference. The Socratic idea that people should be educated. People unconsciously don’t realize what they are saying and there’s no place for things like that if you are constantly aware of just how demeaning it is what they said,” said Kastrick.

“A St. Mary’s Parish volunteer made an offensive and inexcusable mistake. The volunteer has been removed from his duties.

St. Mary Parish and the Archdiocese of Omaha apologize to anyone who has been hurt by the marquee message. Both the parish and the archdiocese have enjoyed a longstanding relationship with our Hispanic brothers and sisters living in the city. One person’s mistake will not weaken this valued relationship.”

 

The Archdiocese of Omaha

 

The church has since taken down the sign and replaced it with this sign.

It says Lo Siento, “sorry” in Spanish.

The Archdiocese of Omaha says a St. Mary’s volunteer made “an offensive and inexcusable mistake.” That volunteer has been removed from his duties.

The archdiocese and the church say they want to apologize to anyone who was hurt.

Community members say they hope the person who put up the sign learns an important lesson.

“I’m always a believer that when you punish someone, you just make them mad. But if you try to truly educate them and understand why what they are saying is wrong, that’s why it’s good that they are saying I’m sorry. And hopefully what we get from it is why they said what they said and why it was wrong,” said Kastrick.