Holy Name Cathedral hosts Mass, outreach to migrants

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Holy Name Cathedral hosts Mass, outreach to migrants

Holy Name Cathedral hosted a Spanish-language Advent Mass for over 500 newly arrived migrants and supporters on Dec. 17, 2023 with Bishop Daniel Turley, O.S.A. After Mass, migrants were welcomed in Frances Xavier Warde School cafeteria and receive food, winter coats, toys and religious items. The cathedral's young adult ministry managed a clothing and toy drive. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Asylum seekers joined the Mass on Dec. 17, 2023. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Barbara Rodriguez proclaims a reading during Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
A little girl holds up a card with a picture of Mary during Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Daniel Turley gives the homily. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
A young mother feeds her child during Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Turley blesses asylum seekers who brought up the gifts during Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Turley celebrates the Eucharistic Prayer with Father Ton Nguyen and Father Gregory Sakowicz, rector of the cathedral. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Bishop Turley waves to the congregation during the sign of peace. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Kathy Gruszesky and Beth Beckman hand out sandwiches following Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Coco Vigilar, Joelis Rodriguez and Maria Rodriguez, all volunteers, help people choose gloves after Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Religious items were given out after Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Santiago Torres, a volunteer, assists asylum seekers with finding a coat for either them or someone in their family. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Holy Name Cathedral hosted a Mass for migrants living in hotels around the River North neighborhood on Dec. 17, 2023, followed by a reception attended by over 600 migrants, including many families with small children.

Food, clothing and toys were distributed at the reception following Mass celebrated by Augustinian Bishop Daniel Turley, a Chicago native who spent his ministry serving in Peru.

The event was the idea of Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Katie Mitchell. Since joining the staff at Holy Name Cathedral in August, she has walked through the neighborhood, visiting migrants at the hotels and those sitting on street corners with signs asking for support.

“These are the people that are around here that are invisible and without a voice,” Mitchell said. “The church needs to be present for them.”

She and parish volunteers handed out fliers to the people in the hotels and on the streets, personally inviting them to the Mass.

“My joy today is just to fill up the church,” she said after Mass.

One of Mitchell’s goals is to start a weekly Mass in Spanish at the cathedral. Other Spanish speakers who work in area hotels and restaurants would also benefit from Mass in Spanish, she said.

Many of the migrants she met expressed interest in their faith. 

“Even when I was collecting the coats the past two weeks, I had people coming to the door asking, ‘When is the Mass in Spanish here?’” she said. “Right away I had people coming up to me saying, ‘We want to get our children baptized. Can we do that today?’”

They also want to learn more about their faith, she said.

“They want to find the presence of the church for them,” Mitchell said. “They want to be seen. They want to be heard. They’re Catholics, most often.”

The parish and the ministry can draw inspiration from St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Mitchell said, who came to the United States to work with immigrants and established 67 schools, hospitals and other institutions in North and South America and in Europe. She died in 1917 in Chicago and there is a national shrine to her in Lincoln Park.

The cathedral has a first-class relic of the saint and a large bronze statue of her in its courtyard.

When passing the statue of Mother Cabrini in the courtyard, Mitchell said, she stops to touch it and offers a prayer to the saint seeking her intercession for the immigration ministry.

“She struggled. She had a hard time,” Mitchell said. “She gives me a lot of hope and a lot of joy. I’ve been praying to her in a special way.”

Carol Christiansen, a parishioner who distributed food to the migrants after Mass, also has a devotion to Mother Cabrini and said that the parish is doing exactly what the saint would want.

“Through Sister Katie, we’re responding to the immigrant crisis here in Chicago with the spiritual needs and also with some physical needs trying to provide as much as we can,” she said. “We’re hoping that, seeing this big outpouring of people, maybe it can become something on a regular basis.”

The parish’s young adult ministry collected the clothing and toys distributed after Mass. Each year, the group conducts a coat drive; this year’s drive was tailored to the migrants, said Jeremy Hernandez, who helped organize the drive and distribution.

“We think it’s important because part of Christ’s ministry is, number one, helping everybody,” Hernandez said. “We also see, no matter what happens, people are still people no matter where you come from. Pain is still pain and it’s still Christmas. Every child deserves to open a gift on Christmas.”

Coco Vigilar, a member of the young adult ministry, said helping the migrants answers Christ’s call to serve others.

“It just brings back a lot of being grateful for what I have and being in a place to help give and be there to support people,” she said. “It reminds me of our Catholic church and how were are all a family and one body and we’re all in this together.”


  • migrants
  • parishes

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