“40 Years of Welcoming the Stranger” – A Universal Celebration

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me”, a famous verse as inscribed in the Holy Scriptures by St. Matthew concerning Jesus’ description of the Last Judgment. Jesus message was clear and pretty straightforward, He merely wanted to inform all of us through His disciples that those who have done good things (e.g. giving food to the hungry/drink to the thirsty, welcoming a stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, visiting the imprisoned) here on earth shall be granted the blessings of heaven and have eternal life.

Incidentally, the said particular verse in the Bible was the Gospel reading during the Holy Mass in observance of the Catholic Migration Day of the Diocese of Brooklyn held on March 26, 2011 at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Astoria, NYC. As an ordinary layman, I felt the said reading was opportune and could help well address a timely issue concerning migration specifically in the United States, which is hotly being discussed and debated among peers in government, politicians in congress, civil society, academe or even among the least powerful ordinary migrants. Much as this blog would wish to express its opinion on the subject, it would refrain from doing so for the time being so as to focus on the Diocesan celebration.

The Diocese of Brooklyn (which also covers the Queens borough in NYC) through its Catholic Migration Office, marked its “40 years of dedication, commitment and service to immigrants and refugees” of the Diocese. The Bishop of Brooklyn, His Excellency, The Most Reverend Nicholas Di Marzio, articulated the importance and contribution of the immigrants and other migrant workers residing within the Diocese in the U.S., particularly to the country’s economy.

 He shared us briefly a story on how his grandparents managed to get inside the United States sans the necessary legal documents. He mentioned, among others, the need to respect each one of us, especially the migrant workers’ rights regardless of race, status in life, etc. to live, travel and search for greener pastures and provide quality of life for their families and loved ones while at the same time stressing the Diocese’ support for legal migration.

It was my first time to grace the occasion and participate in the said event (as the Filipino Catholic reader in behalf of the Filipino Catholic community in the Diocese). Surprisingly, the Diocese of Brooklyn has actually a diverse catholic community as shown in the various representations during the celebration.

As enunciated by the Bishop, it can be likened to a mini United Nations with over 25 ethnic groups representing their country of origin.  

(photos not for reproduction, please)

It was a multi-cultural celebration where representatives of each country tried their best to wear their beautiful and colorful national costumes despite the cold windy spring time  weather outside (thanks to the comforting sunlight!) and the opportunity to speak in their native language, particularly during the Prayers of the Faithful. Among the countries represented in the said event are Brazil, China, Guatemala, Indonesia, Italy, Philippines, Poland, Honduras, Pakistan, Chinese-Taipei, Lithuania, Honduras, Czech Republic, India, Haiti, Vietnam, Ireland, Croatia, Nigeria, Portugal, Ghana, Korea, Spain, Russia, Romania, United States, West Indian, and other catholic communities representing countries speaking the Arabic language.

The gathering was actually a reaffirmation of the Diocesan support to all people in need, as reflective in this year’s theme, “40 Years of Welcoming the Stranger”. While truly we sometimes feel as if we are strangers in a certain place, we can be comforted by people in a way who are sent by God to pave the right path for us, protect and guide us from harm.

 

After the mass celebration, everyone got a taste of native food and delicacies from each country represented. It was a joy and blissful to see each one sharing their time, talents and treasures to make the occasion a success.

A food for thought from the Vicar for Migrant and Ethnic Apostolate of the Diocese:

“In the Catholic Church there are no borders, no passports needed, no laws of immigration or emigration, no conditions which must be met in order to be in the presence of Christ.”

One of the readings which was translated and delivered in Tagalog language by yours truly:

 “For our seminarians, that they find encouragement and support, especially through our prayers and generosity so as to persevere in their study and with God’s grace come to the altar of the Lord as priests.”

As translated:

“Para sa mga seminarista, na sana ay makatagpo sila ng suporta at tibay ng damdamin lalong-lalo na sa ating mga panalangin at kagandahang-loob, upang sila ay magkaroon ng sigasig sa pag-aaral, at sa pamamagitan ng biyaya ng Diyos ay maging ganap na mga pari sa dambana ng Panginoon”

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The author is grateful for the invitation and the privilege to participate as one of the readers in behalf of the Filipino Catholic community in the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens in the said event to the following: Rev. Fr. Godofredo Felicitas, FDA Coordinator, Mssrs. Romy Rancio and Hermes Allas. Likewise,  I would like to thank Dr. and Mrs. Cesar and Mercy Guererro for accompanying me to the said event. 

At the said gathering, I’ve met new relatively young pretty friends:Sanaa from India and Monica from Poland. Hello guys, welcome to myusefultips!

2 thoughts on ““40 Years of Welcoming the Stranger” – A Universal Celebration”

  1. This is a very helpful information for newbies in a foreign land. Religion indeed plays an important role in our lives. My church likewise welcomed us with open arms, when we first arrived here. It was a nice experience that my family felt as if we’re back in our home land. Thank You.

  2. First, I would like to tell you that this blog article is definitely informational. I understand there are a few organizations giving importance to the plight of immigrants, legitimate or not, in other countries. The U.S. is a country which has so much sympathy for these people. Thank you for your effort of documenting this activity in your area. You occupy a high-grade web place by the way.

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