Special Mass marks National Migration Week
April 18, 2019
About 50 people from various parishes gathered to show support, pray with and for migrants and refugees during a special Stations of the Cross and Mass Jan. 12 at Holy Name Church in Omaha.
With Deacon Gregorio Elizalde, manager of the archdiocese’s Latino Ministry Office, carrying a crucifix and leading the procession to each station, Father Scott Hastings, archdiocesan vicar for clergy and judicial vicar, presided at the event marking National Migration Week, commemorated by the Catholic Church across the United States Jan. 7-14.
Speaking English and Spanish, Father Hastings in his homily said Pope Francis has urged solidarity with refugees and migrants during January, part of the pope’s two-year effort called “Share the Journey” to accompany those who flee violence in their countries or seek a better life in another
“He asks us to take some time, to spend time with those who are refugees, with those who are migrants,” Father Hastings said, “and to look around to see who is here among us.”
Father Hastings told of an encounter with a migrant family on his first Christmas Eve as a priest, when he was called to the county jail in the community he was serving.
Upon arriving, he heard the wailing of a woman being held on charges of buying an identity to enter the country, for which she faced possible three-month imprisonment and deportation, Father Hastings said.
Her husband and children were present, he said, but were not allowed to see her. “So, on Christmas Eve, I was the only person she saw,” he said.
“I have no idea what happened to those people, but I learned a lesson that night, and it was clear as day that there is no difference between me and these people.
“I understand that we live in a country of laws, but we who say we believe in Jesus – what does that mean for us, what is the consequence of that for us?”
Citing the 25th chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus says, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” Father Hastings noted that Jesus also says, “some of you will not go to heaven because, when I was a stranger, you didn’t welcome me – what you didn’t do for the least of these, you didn’t do for me.”
Although the world places more importance on some people than others, one must not make such distinctions, Father Hastings said. “We must try to see people around us as Jesus sees them – beloved sons and daughters.”
“Let’s give thanks that God gives us to live in this place and provides for our needs, and if there’s anything inside us that must exclude anyone from that, let’s bring that to the altar and ask the Lord to heal us of our bias and foolishness.”