NEWARK — Roman Catholic churches in North Jersey are being encouraged to ring their bells on Sunday morning to oppose "fear that is being generated worldwide toward immigrants and refugees."

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the archbishop of Newark, said the ringing is part of the international Joy of Bells initiative started by former Ireland president Mary McAleese.

The bells at the archdiocese's Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart will ring at 10:15 a.m., but parishes may ring their own bells at whatever time they deem appropriate.

Some communities within the archdiocese in Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Union counties have declared themselves so-called sanctuary cities, vowing not to actively cooperate with federal immigration enforcement matters at the risk of losing federal funds

Mohamed T. Khairullah,the Syrian-born mayor of Prospect Park in Passaic County, declared his borough a "sanctuary city" earlier this year. Newark, North Bergen and Union City are also sanctuary cities.

Others, such as Leonia, have voted to be "welcoming communities" in which police will not approach someone about their immigration status but will assist with criminal investigations if asked.

The Joy of Bells takes place on the day the Feast of St. Joseph is observed by the church.

"St. Joseph, in whom was entrusted the care of Jesus and his mother, Mary, understood first-hand the trials and terrors of being a refugee and emigrant, forced from his own land by people wishing to do the Holy Family harm," Tobin said.

McAlesse will lead the Joy of Bells event from the Waterford’s Church of Ireland Christ Church Cathedral, according to the Irish Times, in hopes of sending a worldwide "message of love, hope and inclusion that we hope will bring comfort to the men, women and children whose lives are blighted by the hatred and bigotry of those who would deny them their dignity and rights as human beings."

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at

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