Prayers, Mass mark Migration Week
April 18, 2019
Hoping to raise awareness of the plight of migrants and refugees while welcoming and accompanying them, the Archdiocese of Omaha sponsored Stations of the Cross and a Mass Jan. 12 at Holy Name Church in Omaha.
It was part of the archdiocese’s response to Pope Francis’ call to Share the Journey, a two-year effort at solidarity with people who flee violence or other dangers in their countries, or simply seek a better life, said Father Scott Hastings, who presided at the event, which was in Spanish and English.
“We have a responsibility toward them, not so much to welcome them to our community, but to welcome them home,” said Father Hastings, vicar for clergy and judicial vicar for the archdiocese. “Because they want to make a life here.”
Marking the Catholic Church’s celebration of National Migration Week Jan. 7-14, the event began at 6 p.m. with Stations of the Cross, focusing on the challenges and hopes of migrants and refugees. The 7 p.m. Mass included a Spanish choir from Holy Name and a choir from the African Chaplaincy of the Black Catholic Apostolate, which often gathers at St. Gerald Parish in Ralston.
All Catholics in the archdiocese were invited, and special invitations were extended to people from other countries, including members of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, which serves people from Vietnam, and the Korean community served at St. Andrew Kim Taegon Parish, both in Omaha, Father Hastings said.
One part of raising awareness is helping people who have not experienced leaving another country understand how difficult it can be, and the sacrifices many people have to make to create a new life, he said.
Many migrants and refugees leave behind professions, support systems and other resources. One example Father Hastings gave: An engineer he knows from Venezuela unable to find a similar job in the United States is now sweeping the floor of a packing plant.
Similar experiences often are described by people in other professions that require special certification or language skills, including nurses, teachers and doctors, Father Hastings said. “It continues to amaze me the amount of suffering they have to go through,” he said.
And the Jan. 12 event was an opportunity to gain such understanding, walk with those in need, and offer prayers and support, he said.