“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2).
We live in a world rife with uncertainty, fear and disorder. It seems that every day we wake up to another crisis—humanitarian, political, or environmental. How do we as Catholics live out our faith amidst this chaos?
Since the beginning of this Parish Council year, your parish leaders and representatives have been struggling with this very question. How will The Basilica of Saint Mary serve its parishioners and those in our community who are most vulnerable?
An issue that has been heavy on our hearts and minds is immigration. For more than a decade, the US immigration debate has been dominated by the legislative battle over comprehensive immigration reform. Recently, the debate has shifted to the scope of the President’s discretion on how to enforce the law, who to target, and mechanisms for remaining in this country.
“According to the US Department of Homeland Security, from the start of January through the end of September, the number of immigrants seized in the interior of the country rather than at the border—many of them wrenched from their families and communities—increased by 42% compared to the same period in 2016. Immigration arrests of people with no criminal convictions nearly tripled compared to approximately the same time in 2016” (Human Rights Watch 12/5/17). Beyond the politics, our faith directs us to focus on the principles of the responsibilities and rights of people.
In the Old Testament, God tells us to have special care for outsiders: “You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt” (Lv. 19:33-34).
The New Testament tells Matthew’s story of Joseph and Mary’s escape to Egypt because King Herod wanted to kill their infant. Jesus himself lived as a refugee because his native land was not safe.
Jesus reiterates the Old Testament command to love and care for the stranger: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35).
At the end of World War II, Europe faced an unprecedented migration of millions of people seeking safety. In response, Pope Pius XII wrote Exsul Familia (The Emigre Family), placing the Church squarely on the side of those seeking a better life by fleeing their homes (USCCB).
The US Sanctuary movement began in the early 1980s to provide safety for Central American refugees fleeing civil conflict. Since then the movement has grown across the country and today over 30 congregations in the Twin Cities, suburbs, and greater Minnesota have committed to being either a Sanctuary or Sanctuary Supporting Congregation. Their commitment includes safety, advocacy, financial, physical, and spiritual support.
For years, The Basilica has partnered with Ascension, our largely immigrant, sister-parish. We also provide aid and immigration counseling to anyone who comes to our doors. This fall, a group of Basilica parishioners (including myself) traveled to Tucson, AZ, where the Sanctuary movement began and to the US/Mexico Border to learn more about real people facing deportation.
The Parish Council has had many conversations about formally joining the other downtown congregations as a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation. We plan to hold information sessions for parishioners to learn more about the Sanctuary Movement and to ask questions about how declaring ourselves a Sanctuary Supporting Congregation could impact The Basilica. I hope that you will join us for these important conversations. Please watch for announcements on dates and times.
Feel free to reach out to me or any other Parish Council members with questions. Visit mary.org/parishcouncil for a list of contacts.
Parish Council Chair
The Basilica of Saint Mary
JANUARY 28, 2018