Cardinal Blase J. Cupich

Welcoming our new neighbors

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

During a recent meeting, several priests shared with me the concerns of parishioners to know more about what the archdiocese has been doing to care for recently arrived migrants and asylum seekers. What follows is a brief summary, which I ask you to share with friends and neighbors, if it would be helpful.

Since the start of the influx of new arrivals to the Chicago area, the archdiocese, through Catholic Charities and our parishes, has partnered with government and community leaders to connect newcomers with safe, long-term housing and provide resources to meet their basic needs. We have a dedicated team of more than 200 bilingual staff working on the frontlines each day, serving with courageous and faith-filled compassion, hope and joy.

Together with generous philanthropic support, our parishes and Catholic Charities have distributed hundreds of essential items, such as weekly transit cards and blankets to new arrivals staying at District 1 police station and O’Hare International Airport. We continue to serve thousands through our parishes and Catholic Charities’ anchor programs at community centers across Lake and Cook counties, by providing fresh food through our pantries, welcoming them as guests to our community suppers and connecting them to other services. 

Catholic Charities is deploying an integrated, three-pronged approach to support new arrivals. Rapid Response and Mission Engagement teams work in collaboration with parish, community and government partners to mobilize and coordinate resources, plan and implement initiatives and distribute help and materials expeditiously and with dignity. Additionally, Charities staff assist migrants who wish to reunite with family and friends in other parts of the U.S.

For instance, in December 2022, Catholic Charities responded to the city and state’s call to help transition migrants out of suburban hotels and city shelters. In partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services, Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services and the Mayor’s Office, we connect new arrivals with private landlords.

The city provides Catholic Charities a caseload of people eligible for state-funded emergency rental assistance. Charities case managers then work with individuals and families to complete a housing needs assessment, and then match them to landlords with available, affordable apartments. Charities’ partners process emergency rental applications, help with move-in and support community integration.

As the numbers grow, Catholic Charities has committed to increasing its pace, helping 500 households each month find housing. To that end, Catholic Charities continues to seek responsible and reputable landlords to continue renting to our newest neighbors. 

Catholic Charities is also partnering with the Resurrection Project to assist eligible new arrivals with applying for work authorization and Temporary Protection Status. This includes reviewing supporting documentation, providing interpretation and translation and helping newcomers complete their applications.

Again, in collaboration with our parishes, Catholic Charities, thanks to the financial support from donors, continues to accompany families in their resettlement and community integration over their first months in Chicago. This includes providing crisis assistance to new arrivals, such as blankets, transit cards and other essentials. Our food pantries serve new arrivals, especially in Cicero and in Chicago’s Back-of-the-Yards neighborhood. Our daily community supper programs in many parishes and in downtown Chicago and Cicero have doubled in size to welcome hundreds of migrant families, many with young children and babies. Our domestic violence team is responding to many calls for help from migrants.

In sum, the Catholic Church has been at the forefront of responding to the needs of migrants and asylum seekers. The table below offers some helpful statistics, which offers a snapshot of all that we are doing. I am so grateful to our pastors, parishioners and especially Catholic Charities, which is taking the lead in coordinating our efforts. 

For more information, please contact [email protected]


  • migrants