Shelter the Homeless.
Following up on yesterday's post, I wanted to share with you another way that another corporal work of mercy is unfolding here at WLP. Over the past several months we have been working with Exodus World Service to help settle a refugee family here in the United States, You can read about our efforts thus far here and here.
Just today, in Saint Peter's Square, Pope Francis focused his remarks on the works of mercy:
"In our own day, the growing influx of refugees fleeing war, famine and dire poverty is a summons to welcome and care for these brothers and sisters. Like so many committed Christians who have gone before us, such as Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, we need to find generous and creative ways of meeting their immediate needs."
The USCCB's web site has a section on the corporal works of mercy. Beneath the work "Shelter the Homeless" is this description.
"There are millions of children and families who are on the move, fleeing from war, illness, hunger and impossible living conditions, and searching for peace and safety. Engage parish groups of children, youth, young adults, and families in doing some research on the causes and challenges that these families face to survive. Contact Catholic Social Services, or diocesan offices of peace and justice for help with your research. Seek ways to provide shelter for the homeless locally, regionally, nationally or internationally."
Tonight after work, three of us from WLP will be visiting the family we have helped resettle here in the Unites States. This photo was taken moments after the family arrived in Chicago several weeks ago.
They have since been settled into an apartment here in Chicago. Tonight, we'll go to see how they are doing and to assess the needs they may have as the weather turns colder.
I was thinking about resettlement a lot lately, trying to figure out what it must be like. The only personal experience I have come up with pales in comparison to what refugee families like this go through.
When I left the seminary in 1984, there was part of me that just wanted to flee Boston. It was a very very difficult time in my life. No one in my family had ever moved any farther away than a few miles. I packed everything I owned in my tiny Toyota Corolla and fled to Orlando. It tore my heart apart to do so, but I knew I had to forge a new life for myself. I will never forget the many people, including some aunts and uncles who had retired to Florida, who provided a new home for me in a strange land. It lessened the pain and anxiety I felt.
I hope that what we have done in the past few months and what we will do tonight will somehow do for this family what so many people did for me to make this stranger feel welcome in a strange land.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.