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On the last Saturday of June, the morning began with coffee and quiche. The early sun warmed the morning promising a bright and sunny day as over 2000 demonstrators gathered along the shore of Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA for the Families Belong Together rally. Local geese, families with their children and adults, gathered with the thousands of Americans, across the country, demanding the reunification of immigrant families seeking refuge from the tyranny of physical and emotional violence. Many speakers and musicians addressed the injustice encountered by immigrant families at the southern border of the United States.
However, as I sat with my mother who gladly joined me at the rally, I felt a growing gloom as I considered the anguish of parents and children forcibly separated by the cruel and in-inhumane policies of the government that represents this country. A country once called “a city on the hill.” As I walked to the gathering site for the demonstration, I encountered another aging man who shared my gloomy feelings, asking, “how many times do we have to meet like this?” Indeed, how many times? As the families and adults gathered, I heard in the speeches and music the answer to our common question: “as many times as the vulnerable and powerless are harmed and treated unjustly.” As the crowd swelled my spirits began to rise, there was a spirit of compassion weaving its thread throughout the crowd. Many signs, in one way or another, spoke of “building bridges, not walls.”
While with this crowd, and standing in solidarity with the many children and parents being denied their intrinsic right of being family, I was reminded that my participation in this rally was my solidarity with the nameless children and parents, as well as my solidarity with my Oblate brothers and their parishioners who know the names and their humanity.
Together, compassion has taken to the streets and the national demonstrations and the presence of my Oblate brothers and the many volunteers, echoed the words of St. Augustine: “an unjust law is no law at all.”
Creating a Culture of Encounter: National Migration Week 2017 December 20th, 2016
National Migration Week is January 8 -14, 2017
The US Bishops have designated January 8 through January 14, 2017 as National Migration Week. This observance calls people of faith to join in solidarity with immigrants, migrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking.
The theme for the 2017 National Migration Week is Creating a Culture of Encounter. It focuses on developing awareness of newcomers within our faith communities and celebrating our diversity and richness together as a family of God. This observance is an initiative of the US Bishops and provides Catholics an opportunity to take stock of the wide diversity within the Church and work for justice for immigrants and refugees.
The Missionary Oblates JPIC Office invites you to use this opportunity to pray, raise awareness and educate your communities on the issue of immigration and Catholic Social Teaching.
The following liturgical resources and a National Migration Week 2017 Toolkit can be downloaded at the US Bishops’ website:
- A digital copy of the National Migration Week 2017 Prayer Card.
- A collection of prayers for use in your National Migration Week celebrations.
- A homily can be used to help frame a message to parishioners on migration.
- Petitions at your National Migration Week mass, or other gatherings that reflect on the situation confronting migrants.
Pentecost and Immigration: Ecumenism and Dialogue Essential May 13th, 2016
Written by Fr. Harry Winter, OMI, Coordinator, Ministry of Mission, Unity and Dialogue, USA Province
The celebration of Pentecost reminds many Christians of our disunity, and how the Holy Spirit is reuniting the Christian Churches. We also credit the Holy Spirit for helping us work with people of other Faiths, and People of Good Will, for Justice.
Only if Christians are united, following the lead of the Holy Spirit, can we hope to effectively assist immigrants, especially in the promotion of family life for those whose families have been torn apart. In his Apostolic Letter “The Joy of Love,” Pope Francis begs clergy to work with skilled laity to address the fragmentation of the family today (204). Let us not reinvent the wheel by thinking that vowed Oblates should address the challenge of migrants by ourselves. Our Oblate Associates, our Oblate Partners, our Honorary Oblates all possess resources that we need to bring together. The Holy Spirit is ready to help clergy and laity minister to migrants, each in their own sphere.
Don’t the gifts of the Holy Spirit help us to work with so many others who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and share the grace of one baptism? Evangelical Protestant groups such as World Vision are eager to work with Catholics. The Eastern Orthodox, led by Patriarchs Bartholomew and Kirill are begging us to cooperate. The Joint Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, signed in Cuba on Feb. 12, 2016, begs us to work together to lessen the suffering of migrants and refugees in the Middle East (8-13, 17-21).
Strengthened by the grace of the Holy Spirit, let us not be afraid to make coalitions with groups we may not usually work with. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) disagrees with Catholicism on many issues, but every so often, there arises an issue where we find common ground. May Pentecost open our eyes to these allies for assisting migrants.
When our superior general spoke to us from Rome for our convocation (April 26, 2016), he gave two examples, in Turkmenistan, and Western Sahara, where moderate Muslims and Christians are working together. Also many of our Jewish elder brothers and sisters are skilled in working with migrants.
Yes, at first it will require a little more time and energy to seek our allies. But in the long run, we will be much more effective if we work with others rather than attempting to do everything by ourselves. As Oblates celebrate the 200th anniversary of our founding, during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, let us beg the Holy Spirit of unity, of daring, and of courage, to lead us. Only by working with others, can Oblates significantly lessen the suffering of immigrants.
Pentecost Reminds Us We Are Part of One Human Family May 9th, 2016
Written by Father Anthony Rigoli, OMI
As we approach the great Feast of Pentecost, I can’t help but reflect on how the Holy Spirit moved here in New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, ten years ago.
When I returned to the City of New Orleans after having been welcomed by my brother Oblates in Houston and San Antonio, I felt devastated by the sight of over 80% of the city destroyed. I felt that we would never recover nor be the same Big Easy.
Coming to our rescue were many immigrants from Mexico. They truly helped us to rebuild our city. I believe that we would never have been back to some normalcy if not for our brothers and sisters who came to help us.
From my own perspective, I have since seen a greater respect for the immigrants who come to New Orleans. This city was built by immigrants that came here in the past and now in the present. There seems to be a respect for the Mexicans because all New Orleanians know that we would not be where we are today without their hard work. They are workers through and through. They teach us so much. To me, this is truly the work of the Holy Spirit.
Throughout the history of this city, immigrants have persevered in spite of hardship and discrimination. The gift of courage has been given to them. All of us can learn from those who never give up.
My own parents came from Sicily with the dream for a better life. May we never give up on our dreams. May the guidance and gift of the Holy Spirit that came at Pentecost and that still comes today, continue to lead us.
Fr. Anthony Rigoli, OMI, is the pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church/International Shrine of St. Jude in New Orleans, Louisana. He was born in Buffalo, NY and ordained an O.M.I. in 1972. He has been involved in parish work, teaching, campus ministry and preaching workshops.
A Stranger and You Welcomed Me December 28th, 2015
National Migration Week 2016
National Migration Week will be observed January 3 to 9. The theme for the 2016 observance is, “A Stranger and You Welcomed Me.” Oblate JPIC is inviting you to use this opportunity to pray, raise awareness and educate your communities on the issue of immigration and Catholic Social Teaching.
We are a community called and gathered by you, God. Your son, Jesus, lived your love in a community of apostles and disciples and invited them to look after one another. We ask you to help us not to forget that we all are called to imitate the example of your Son among ourselves.
The Church hears the suffering cry of all who are uprooted from their own land, of families forcefully separated, of those who, in the rapid changes of our day, are unable to find a stable home anywhere. She senses the anguish of those without rights, without any security, at the mercy of every kind of exploitation, and she supports them in their unhappiness. [We are called to work] so that every person’s dignity is respected, the immigrant is welcomed as a brother or sister, and all humanity forms a united family, which knows how to appreciate with discernment the different cultures, which comprise it.
(Pope John Paul II Message for World Migration Day 2000)
We pray that you provide your divine protection to all migrants, particularly those who are driven from their homes due to war or violence, who are uprooted due to environmental degradation and climate change, or whose material poverty pushes them to find opportunities elsewhere.
Show us how we might reach out to these vulnerable populations and help them to begin a new life in a new home. Open our hearts, so that we may provide hospitality for all who come in search of refuge. Give us the courage to welcome every stranger, as Christ in our midst. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
(Prayer from USCCB National Migration Week 2016)
We pray for all people. We pray for those who leave their countries of origin in search for a better life for their families. Help us to stand strong in our actions of solidarity and prayers. Give courage to our elected leaders to do the right thing of enacting laws that protects all immigrant families.You always make something new in each one of us.
With your help, let us build a better world for all people.We pray in Jesus name.
Specific resources for National Migration Week 2016 can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migration-week/
A Call for Compassion Toward Immigrants October 26th, 2015
“When the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.”
(Pope Francis to Joint Session of U.S Congress- September 24, 2015)
On October 20, the Senate voted down “Stop Sanctuary Cities and Protect Americans Act,” also known as S.2146. Missionary Oblates JPIC joined other religious-based organizations and human rights groups in expressing profound concern about the potential impacts if S.2146 became law. Church groups expressed that such programs have led to increased fear of immigration detention and deportation among immigrant families in communities across the country. We appreciate you for standing with immigrant families and raising your faithful voices to Senators in Congress. Your voice made a huge impact.