Sanctuary Supporting Congregation
One of the values we strive to live every day at the Basilica is compassion. As such we become aware of our shared brokenness, and we deeply respect all of God's people, and gratefully welcome-as we would Christ-all those who come to our door. We embrace these people as our brothers and sister in Christ, and we share with them hospitality, love, acceptance and care. We are a community serving the needs of our neighbors. Every day we provide basic tangible and physical resources such as sandwiches, clothing, toiletries, shoes, bus cards, help with I.D. cards and assistance with transportation.
For almost a year, our parish leadership has been learning about and discussing the possibility of The Basilica becoming a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation. At the April meeting of our Parish Council, the decision was made to become a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation. In making this commitment we will continue to do what we currently do for those who come to our St. Vincent de Paul Ministry, many of them from Ascension, our sister parish in North Minneapolis. We would also continue our advocacy work and our prayerful support particularly for those who are on the margins and in need. The major difference would be that we would be named as part of a network of congregations that are committed to supporting this work.
It is perhaps most important to note, though, that becoming a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation is very different form being a Sanctuary Congregation. Being a Sanctuary Congregation requires additional commitments that could put the Basilica at some legal risk. As your pastor, I cannot do that. Being a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation has significantly fewer commitments and would serve as a way to continue to compassionately serve a community in need and as a way of living our faith.
Now admittedly in today’s world, the word “Sanctuary” comes with some baggage. It may be helpful to note, though, that it shares the same root as the Latin word: “Sanctus,” which means holy. Jesus has told us that “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, you do for me.” Additionally, in his trip to Colombia this past September Pope Francis called on Catholics to “promote the dignity of all our brothers and sisters, particularly the poor and the excluded of society, those who are abandoned, immigrants and those who suffer violence and human trafficking,” Responding without judgement to the needs of those who come to our doors is what we are called to do as followers of Jesus Christ.
I would encourage anyone who has questions or concerns about this issue to take them to prayer. If, after praying about them, you would like to share them with me, please contact me.
Fr. John M. Bauer
The Basilica of Saint Mary
For more information visit mary.org/sanctuarysupport