Providing light of Christ to newcomers
By Rhonda Miska
HAMPTON — “The Church is mother, and her motherly attention is expressed with special tenderness and closeness to those who are obliged to flee their own country and exist between rootlessness and integration,” Pope Francis declared in a 2013 address on Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. “May our Christian communities really be places of hospitality, listening, and communion!”
Throughout the three years of his papacy – from his first trip to the island of Lampedusa where countless migrants have lost their lives to his recent trip where he celebrated Mass near the U.S.-Mexico border – Pope Francis reiterated this strong message of compassionate concern for immigrants and refugees, calling for a “culture of encounter,” not a “culture of fragmentation.” This vision of hospitality and encounter is put into practice by women religious throughout the world. Sisters from Dubuque-area congregations have long been active in both assisting newly arrived immigrants as well as working for comprehensive immigration reform through legislative advocacy. In 2013, the Sinsinawa Dominicans approved a corporate witness statement calling for “just and compassionate immigration reform” that reunites families and recognizes the root causes of migration, as well as recognizing that their founder, Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, was an immigrant to the United States. Dubuque Franciscan Sisters, along with other women religious and lay people, are involved with Dubuque for Refugee Children which offers support to children between the ages of 10 and 21 who have fled violence in their home countries in Central America.