Calling it the “antidote to the fear that we see in the world,” Cardinal Blase Cupich encouraged parishioners Sunday to “respond in human solidarity” to migrants seeking work and shelter in the United States.
“When so many want to make us afraid of diversity, of the migrant, of the immigrant who is looking for a better life, can we not say, ‘Let’s see where Christ is leading us?’” Cupich said. “Let us not be afraid.”
The cardinal made his comments while presiding over the opening mass for National Migration Week at Holy Name Cathedral. People from more than 40 countries participated in the service, many dressed in their native garb. The service was meant to answer Pope Francis’ call “for a culture of encounter with all immigrants and refugees.”
The service featured multilingual readings and music in Spanish, Polish, Vietnamese and Tagalog, a language spoken in the Philippines. Offerings collected at the service will be directed to the Refugee Resettlement Ministry at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Parishioners also heard testimonials from Syrian refugee Feras Shawish and Steffany Velazguez, a student-recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Shawish told them about the “unforgettable” moments his family experienced, such as when a case worker welcomed them to the United States at O’Hare International Airport.
Velazguez, now a counselor to women with difficult pregnancies, described the challenges she faced as the child of an immigrant hoping to go to college. Even upon her graduation with a degree in psychology, she said she couldn’t find a job in her field until DACA came along.
“Having the opportunity to work legally was close to a miracle,” Velazguez said. “I felt important to society. I felt like I mattered.”
In his homily, Cupich compared the strife of present-day migrants to the magi who sought Jesus Christ after his birth. Cupich said “there is great joy that the church experiences day after day as it works with migrants and immigrants,” helping them find jobs or places to live.
“My hope would be that, as you come here today, you will experience a change,” Cupich said. “A conversion. A new way of thinking about those who are strangers. Who don’t have documents. The dreamers who only want a chance to finish their education.”
Velazguez warned the church that “many things are dividing us as Catholics.” But she added that “when one part of the body of Christ is suffering, we all suffer.
“When one part of the body of Christ is rejoicing, we all rejoice.”