Let us enter this Lenten season with hearts full of love and compassion for those in need. Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament has chosen the Catholic Charities of Chicago Welcome the Stranger Parish-Family Sponsorship program for our parish-wide Lenten Almsgiving project. Giving alms—donating time, talent and treasure—is a way for us to prepare for the Lord by sharing God’s gifts. Through partnerships with local parishes and other organizations, Welcome the Stranger seeks to connect migrants with the resources they need to get on their feet.
Migration has always been a complex issue, with individuals and families leaving their homes due to a variety of reasons, including violence, political oppression, poverty and religious persecution. Since September, 2022, there has been a significant influx of migrants seeking refuge in the Chicago area and many have made their way to the northwest suburbs. While these individuals and families are hopeful for a brighter future, they often face many challenges as they adjust to life in their new home. And while many parishes have already provided support to asylum seekers, more help is needed.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago is one of the organizations working to coordinate support for asylum seekers through its Welcome the Stranger Parish-Family Sponsorship program. The Family Sponsorship program will match participating parishes with a single family by April or May, 2023. Once Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament is connected with our family, we will introduce and welcome them to our parish and begin helping with their critical needs. As we walk with our family, we will keep the parish informed of their progress as they establish their home in our area and work to secure asylum status. With our strong sense of community and commitment to social justice, as the Catholic Church, we are well positioned to help these individuals and families as they navigate the challenges of resettlement.
One of the primary ways that we can help resettled migrants is by providing them with access to essential services such as housing, healthcare, food support and education. Our goal is to raise $10,000 (that’s every OLBS family donating roughly $5) to cover a family’s resettlement expenses for up to 6 months. Look for goal thermometers in our vestibules during Lent to track our progress, and please give generously to help us Welcome the Stranger.
Additionally, we are looking to form a small team of Welcome the Stranger Parish-Family Liaisons to walk with our family through these processes. Charitable agencies specializing in immigration have already worked with adults to begin the process of applying for asylum and work visas. Family liaisons will work with representatives from Catholic Charities and other agencies to help our family secure housing and assist with other critical needs like food, clothing, legal assistance, health care, schooling for children and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for adults. Specific requirements for family liaison volunteers:
Another important way that Welcome the Stranger aims to help resettled migrants is by providing them with a sense of community and support. We will work to create a welcoming and inclusive community for asylum seekers, helping to build bridges between different cultures and promoting understanding and respect. With its many programs and activities, the Church is creating a space where migrants can come together to socialize, share their experiences, and offer each other support. This can be especially important for those who have experienced trauma or loss, as it can help to heal emotional wounds and promote a sense of belonging, one family at a time.
Through our commitment to social justice, access to essential services, and provision of a supportive community, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and our parishioners are helping to create a brighter future for these individuals and their families.
Questions? Please contact Mary Ellen Ottenstein at (847) 979-0901 x1007 or email@example.com or set time on Fr. Dan’s calendar.