Cardinal Cupich welcomes gifts of ‘new Magi’ at migration Mass

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
January 10, 2018

Cardinal Cupich accepts the gifts from people wearing traditional dress at the Jan. 7 Mass at Holy Name Cathedral to kick off National Migration Week. The Mass included a procession of people representing nearly 50 countries of origin. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Cardinal Cupich drew a clear line connecting the Magi who brought their gifts to the newborn Jesus to migrants of today, especially young people whose status in the United States is in jeopardy, at a Jan. 7 Mass at Holy Name Cathedral marking the beginning of National Migration Week.

For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which is an opportunity for the church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children and victims and survivors of human trafficking.

“Today we come knowing that the Magi have much to teach us about our faith,” Cardinal Cupich said at the beginning of the Mass. “And so do immigrants and Dreamers.”

“Dreamers” refers to young people brought into the United States illegally when they were children who grew up here and want to stay. There have been several efforts to pass legislation, usually known as the DREAM Act, that would give them legal status. In the absence of those bills becoming law, President Barack Obama in 2012 issued an executive order — called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — protecting young people who have not been in trouble and who registered with the federal government from deportation. Last year, President Donald Trump rescinded that order, giving Congress until March to pass a bill that would protect DACA recipients.

One of those young people, Alejandra Duran, shared her story with the congregation at the end of Mass. Duran came to the United States with her mother and siblings when she was a child, and she grew up in Georgia. She always wanted to be a doctor but thought it would be impossible.

“Then DACA came along,” said Duran, who is now a student in Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine. “I was able to follow my purpose.”

While her goal is now threatened, she said she is not giving up hope.

“Our people are resilient,” she said. “Our people are hardworking. We need to make an extra effort not to give into fear. We must love each other. I believe that justice will prevail in the end.”

The standing-room-only Mass began with a procession of people representing nearly 50 countries wearing traditional dress. It was concelebrated by more than two dozen priests, and prayers were said in seven languages.

Seeing that, Cardinal Cupich said, was a confirmation of the first reading, from the prophet Isaiah, saying that people of all nations would come together to give glory to God. 

The Magi, he said, came to Bethlehem as strangers.

“They are foreigners,” he said. “They probably had no documents.”

What they did have was the will to look up to the sky, away from their own day-to-day lives, Cardinal Cupich said, citing the Epiphany homily delivered by Pope Francis.

“They looked up rather than obsess over the things of this life,” he said. “How is it that no one else saw the star? Was it because they never observed? It’s not a flashy star, it’s not a dazzling one. God comes gradually. The Magi saw this star rising gently.”

People in America should look for the simple things migrants are looking for as well, he said.

“Migrants who come to our country, living simple lives, remind us of the simple ways God blesses us every day,” he said.

After observing the star, the Magi took action by setting out to follow it, Cardinal Cupich said. “They left the comforts of home,” he said. “They took the risk of moving forward. Migrants, immigrants, Dreamers living in our midst, they took the risk. … Our country loses something when we can no longer take the next step forward, when we can no longer take risks to tackle the big problems in our land, like unemployment and racism. By being bold and moving forward, the Magi teach us that, and so do the immigrants.”

Then, when they reached the Holy Family, the Magi ended their journey by giving, Cardinal Cupich said.

“Our lives only mean something if they are given away,” the cardinal said. “And we have to make them good enough to give away. The Magi and the present-day Dreamers have a lot to teach us. The new Magi in our day are the Dreamers and the DACA students. God always has so much more in store for us, and he is always going to surprise us with that rising star.”

Seeing the members of immigrant communities gathered together was a vivid lesson in faith, he said.

“You recognize that you are here to make a gift of your life,” he said.

One way that immigrants use their gifts in Chicago is with Pastoral Migratoria, social ministry to immigrants that is carried out by immigrants themselves.

Elena Segura, associate director of the Office of Human Dignity and Solidarity and senior coordinator for immigration, said that Pastoral Migratoria is celebrating its 10th anniversary. It is now active in about 50 parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago, and the archdiocesan immigration ministry office has at least a contact in every parish that does Hispanic ministry and sends all of those parishes monthly newsletters with resources.

At the same time, the office is working with other dioceses to start their own Pastoral Migratoria, with the Diocese of Stockton, California, and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, scheduled to start their ministries this spring.

At the end of the Mass, Cardinal Cupich presented Segura with a small sculpture of the Three Kings he found while visiting Puerto Rico in December at the behest of Pope Francis.

Segura looked at the congregation that gathered for the Mass and said, “What a beautiful thing. There is a beauty here, and a spirit. We are gifts. We are gifts to our country. Let’s go back to our communities and be that light, by being who we are and doing what we do.”


  • immigration
  • migration

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