Welcoming the Stranger

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Dear IVC Friends:

I’ve seen lots of patriotism this summer during the World Cup and our recent celebration of July 4th in Washington, DC.  Our American flag is a symbol around the world for the values we stand for – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  I think about so many who leave their homes and come to the United States to seek the “American Dream” and to provide a better future for their families.

So many immigrants leave economic turmoil, joblessness, and political unrest behind in the hopes of the freedom that is part of the US’s founding principles.  They often face tremendously difficult circumstances as they journey here, and then the struggles can continue once they arrive.

Fr. Andrew White, SJ, the first Jesuit who came to Maryland, faced struggles too.  He arrived in 1634 as a missionary, leaving England, where Catholics were forbidden to practice their faith.  He worked alongside the Protestant pilgrims and the Native Americans, celebrated Masses with them, and showed tremendous respect for the culture of the Native Americans.  He learned their languages, and translated the catechism.  He showed that brotherhood and sisterhood is a foundation for citizenship.  After living in solidarity with those in his new community, he was captured and sent back to England under false pretenses. While he was subsequently acquitted of the charges against him, he was never able to return to Maryland.

While immigration can be a contentious political issue, our Catholic Church holds firm to its support of migrants as part of Catholic Social Teaching.  The US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Justice for Immigrants Campaign says, The Church has taken a position on immigration because, besides being an economic, social, and legal issue, it is also a humanitarian one, and, ultimately has moral implications. Each day church social service programs, hospitals, schools, and parishes see the human consequences of a broken system: families are divided, migrant workers are exploited and abused, and human beings die in the desert. This impacts human dignity and human life and should be addressed.”

In this issue, you’ll read about Dede Armstrong, an Ignatian Volunteer who spent last year serving at Casa Guadalupana in St. Paul, Minnesota.  She became the welcoming face of Christ to the many individuals and families she served there.

Thank you for your support of IVC and our mission of service to the poor and vulnerable in our communities.

Mary