Mass wraps up National Migration Week events

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Mass wraps up National Migration Week events

The Archdiocese of Chicago concluded its National Migration Week festivities with a closing Mass on Sept. 24, 2023 at Holy Name Cathedral. Auxiliary Bishop Robert Lombardo presided over the Mass, which began with a procession of nations representing 25 countries and featured readings and prayers in 11 languages including English, Spanish, Polish, Italian, Hindi, Luganda (a language spoken in central Uganda), Vietnamese, Filipino, Portuguese, Swahili and Bahasa (a language spoken in Indonesia). At the end of Mass, two migrant families shared their testimonies and the welcome they received through parishes of the Archdiocese of Chicago. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Members of the Tanzanian community carry their banner during the opening procession for the National Migration Week Mass at Holy Name Cathedral on Sept. 24, 2023. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Members of the Chinese community carry their banner during the opening procession. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Auxiliary Bishop Robert Lombardo incenses the altar during Mass. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Worshipers pray during Mass. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Lombardo delivers the homily during Mass. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Lombardo accepts the gifts during Mass. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
Priests join Bishop Lombardo for the Eucharistic Prayer. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)
A young boy looks on as his parents give their testimony. (Cyndy Flores-Mocarski/Chicago Catholic)

The Archdiocese of Chicago closed its observance of National Migration Week on Sept 24 with Mass at Holy Name Cathedral.

The Mass came more than a year after busloads of migrants began to arrive in Chicago, sent from Texas by Gov. Greg Abbott. As of August, city officials said more than 13,000 migrants had arrived in the area.

“National Migration Week intends to echo Pope Francis’ call to deepen our understanding of the complex issue that are the driving forces of migration and renew our commitment to respond,” said Elena Segura, Senior Coordinator for Immigration — National Ministry.

Several parishes in the archdiocese engaged in prayer, reflection and action to help immigrants, she said.

The closing Mass, celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Robert Lombardo, began with a procession of nations featuring representatives of 25 countries in traditional dress, and included readings, songs and prayers in 11 languages, including English, Spanish, Polish, Italian, Hindi, Luganda (a language spoken in central Uganda), Vietnamese, Filipino, Portuguese, Swahili and Bahasa (a language spoken in Indonesia)

Bishop Lombardo welcomed all the participants at Mass, saying that their presence was a reminder of Jesus’ “great commission” to “go forth and teach all nations.”

“Look, today, we have right here in the cathedral, as you look around, we have the words of Jesus come to life among us. The word has gone out to the whole world, and we have a small example, a small witness to the power of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The U.S. Catholic Church has celebrated National Migration Week for more than 40 years, traditionally linking it to the Vatican’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The events offer an opportunity for Catholics to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children and survivors of human trafficking.

In solidarity with the Vatican, this year’s theme is “Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay,” intended to shine a light on the root causes that drive migration.

At the end of the Mass, Mauro Pineda, formation/collaboration coordinator for Pastoral Migratoria, the archdiocese’s immigrant-to-immigrant ministry, spoke while standing next to a family of four from Haiti.

The family — parents Chrislet and Mimose and children Miguel, 4, and Winslet, 3 — arrived in Chicago in April after fleeing from violence and poverty in Haiti and making their way to Brazil. They traveled through Colombia and crossed the Darien Gap — 60 miles of roadless jungle between Colombia and Panama — on foot, before navigating Central America, Pineda said.

“These are 60 miles of inhospitable jungle which this family and others from Venezuela and many other parts of the world traverse, perilously,” he said. “Over half of them die there. Migrants come to us with physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual trauma. That is why we, as faithful Catholics, welcome them.”

Celine Woznica, who represented the Catholic community of Oak Park, spoke of the work her community is doing to help migrants now being housed at the Chicago Police Department’s 15th District.

Working as a team with members of many religious traditions, they have helped migrants by offering food, clothing, toiletries and other necessities, she said. They persuaded parish leaders to open the closed St. Catherine-St. Lucy twice a week so the migrants could take showers.

After the guests bathe, they can select from donated clothes, and the women go to the kitchen and cook the food they are accustomed to.

“It is so life-giving,” Woznica said.

The team is working with Catholic Charities and other agencies as well as local government officials, and has recently resettled its third migrant family in Oak Park.

Bishop Lombardo said many Catholic organizations, not just parishes, are helping migrants. The Mission of Our Lady of the Angels, which he founded and runs, helps 700 to 1,000 migrant families each week with food, clothing and household goods as they try to reestablish themselves.

“We are all united in Christ,” Bishop Lombardo said. “We are all brothers and sisters. Think of your own brothers and sisters. How would you respond if they were in need?”


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