The press conference was held on July 2 with Bishop Bambera and fellow U.S. Bishops who visited the border crossing with Mexico in the area of the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas.
By Rhina Guidos Catholic News Service
MCALLEN, Texas (CNS) – Some had been on the road for weeks, others for days, and some entered looking haggard and sunburned with little more than the clothes they were wearing, some holding the hands of their children as a group of Catholic bishops joined a chorus of hands applauding in welcome.
Sister Norma Pimentel, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, who is executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, asked the bishops visiting the center during the arrival of the recent immigrants July 1 if they could help serve food to the children, whose eyes lit up when they saw fruit or soup and the smiling faces of volunteers replenishing their dishes and asking questions.
“Does the soup taste good?” Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville asked in Spanish, as some children shyly nodded toward the prelate.
Nearby, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston carried a tray with bowls of soup into the room filled with children’s voices. Cardinal DiNardo was leading the delegation of bishops toward the border communities in the Brownsville-McAllen area close to the southern border with Mexico July 1 and 2.
The visit to what’s known as the respite center run by Catholic Charities in downtown McAllen quickly took the prelates into the heart of the human drama of migration and its human toll.
A woman traveling with a 3-year-old said that along the way she’d heard children were being taken away from parents and she prayed that it wouldn’t happen to her because returning to her home country of Guatemala was not an option — either way she risked losing her child.
But immigration authorities were kind and humane when she checked in, she said, and allowed her and her child to go free after filling out paperwork and a short detention. Then the welcome she received at the respite center, she said, was a sign to her that “God is so great and never abandons us.”
The center is a first stop for immigrants like her, fortunate enough to have a place to go to, such as the one in McAllen, after being released by immigration authorities. It, too, was a first stop for the bishops looking to understand the situation of family separation and other immigration issues along the border.
Cardinal DiNardo, along with Auxiliary Bishop Robert J. Brennan of Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania, took the opportunity to speak with as many as they could in the room, addressing topics such as why they left home or simply asking the migrants where they were headed and how they were doing.
A 12-year-old girl sitting with her father nearby asked Bishop Brennan about snow because she had never seen it. He asked where they were headed and the father responded: “Philadelphia.”
“Vas a ver la nieve,” he told her in Spanish, telling her she would see snow.
Then they asked him about New York.
“Do you know the Yankees? And the Mets?” Bishop Brennan asked. And the father answered “yes” with excitement.
The girl’s father, who traveled from Honduras mostly by foot, later said he was grateful for the great kindness the bishops had shown, how they had treated him and his daughter as human beings and it made him feel that his load had finally lightened after a long and hard journey.
Bishop Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
Though the room held a lot of smiles and optimism, there was a silence about the journey that had gotten them there but whose details many of the sojourners were not yet ready to share, said Bishop Brennan. He found the experiencing “very moving,” he said, and it made him think of those he knows in New York “who’ve come on the other side of that journey.”
“This gives me a deeper understanding of the experience that many of our folks went through to get the point where I’ve come to know and love them on Long Island,” he said.
Volunteers, which included many young adults, zigzagged through the room during the visit, handing out clothes, playing with the children, showing those who had recently arrived the shower, giving out water and heating a home-cooked meal for them.
“In this room is the core of Catholic social teaching: the dignity of life,” said Bishop Bambera.
William Canny, executive director of Migration and Refugee Services for the U.S. bishops’ conference, who also accompanied the bishops on their visit, said the welcome was “a phenomenal act of charity by the church, to receive these people released by the government and helping them go onward to family and friends.”
“This is what we call welcoming, this is the act of welcoming that we all like to see,” he said, especially knowing about the incredibly difficult journey they had just made.
“It’s the moment when our American, our human values come forward and it was nice to watch, people were extremely grateful,” he said.
It was uplifting to see a group of people who’ve had a lot of bad things happen to them, “get a dose of good,” he said.
“It’s a moment when they’re feeling a small sense of safety. They’re also realizing that they’ve left people behind,” Canny said.
But few will forget that warm welcome, the cheers, the applause, the food and smiles, and the bishops who happened to be there that day to feed them and to ask them how they were doing. Along with others, they shared their migration journey that day in exactly the fashion Pope Francis has called for, Canny said, referring to a campaign by the Vatican that calls on Catholics and others of goodwill to build bridges of understanding and hospitality with migrants and refugees.
“It was heartening to see people of all ages come, the volunteerism, young and more experienced people, reaching out and sharing the journey as the Holy Father has asked us to do,” Canny said, recalling the images of the visit. “People stepping forward, welcoming, glasses of water, sandwiches, shampoo … and listening to their stories.”
Bishop Joseph C. Bambera is one of five U.S. bishops on a mission to encounter people who have entered the country at a border crossing from Mexico into Texas.
The delegation from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops arrived July 1 in the Brownsville-McAllen area of Texas, one of the regions on the southern border where parents or family members without legal documentation have been separated from their children.
Catholic bishops have for weeks expressed concern about the separation of families and the well being of the children.
The delegation is being led by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In addition to Bishop Bambera, it includes Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville and Auxiliary Bishop Robert J. Brennan of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, who is vice president of the USCCB, is expected to join the delegation.
The bishops celebrated a morning Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen. Later in the day they visited a respite center that serves refugees and immigrants released from detention centers.
Tomorrow they plan to visit a center for migrants run by Catholic Charities and a facility where children are being held. They also plan to meet with authorities near the border.
“While it is important for us to protect our borders in a just and fair manner, we also must be aware of the plight of so many of the families who are fleeing violence and chaos in their homelands,” Bishop Bambera said.
“In listening to their stories, parents are simply trying the best they can to protect their children and provide them with a safe and secure home. For all that they have suffered on their journeys, they are incredibly grateful for what we can share.”
His Excellency, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, announces the following appointments, effective as indicated:
Reverend Anthony J. Generose, J.V., to Pastor, Most Precious Blood Parish, Hazleton, effective August 1, 2018. Father Generose will continue to serve as Pastor, Queen of Heaven Parish, Hazleton, and as Judicial Vicar for the Diocese of Scranton.
Reverend Joseph J. Manarchuck, from Pastor, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Wyalusing, and Pastor, Saint Joachim Parish, Meshoppen, to Pastor, Saint Joseph Parish, Matamoras, and Saint Patrick Parish, Milford, effective July 2, 2018.
Reverend Louis A. Grippi, from Pastor, Most Precious Blood Parish, Hazleton, to Pastor Emeritus, Most Precious Blood Parish, Hazleton, effective August 1, 2018.
Reverend Edward J. Casey, to Assistant Pastor, Our Lady of the Snows Parish, Clarks Summit, effective June 25, 2018.
Reverend Ryan P. Glenn, to Assistant Pastor, Saint John Neumann Parish, Scranton, effective June 25, 2018.
Reverend Seth D. Wasnock, from Assistant Pastor, Our Lady of the Snows Parish, Clarks Summit, to Assistant Pastor, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish and Saint Rose of Lima Parish, Carbondale, effective June 25, 2018.
Reverend John C. Ruth, from Senior Priest, Saint John Neumann Parish, Scranton, to Senior Priest, Saint Patrick Parish, Scranton. Father Ruth will continue to serve as Chaplain of the Lackawanna County Prison. Effective June 25, 2018.
Reverend Peter Tran, from Senior Priest, Church of the Epiphany Parish, Sayre, to Senior Priest, Christ the King Parish, Archbald. Effective June 25, 2018.
Reverend Richard G. Ghezzi, to Chaplain, Saint Luke’s Villa, Wilkes-Barre, effective June 25, 2018. Father Ghezzi will continue to serve as Chaplain, Little Flower Manor, Saint Therese Residence, Wilkes-Barre.
LEAVE OF ABSENCE
Deacon Stephen B. Frye, from diaconal ministry Saint Ann Parish, Williamsport, and Master of Ceremonies for the Diocesan Bishop, to leave of absence for service at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, effective June 4, 2018.
Deacon Andrew A. Fazio, to Master of Ceremonies for the Diocesan Bishop, effective June 21, 2018. Deacon Fazio will continue his diaconal ministry at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Dunmore.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees established World Refugee Day to commemorate the strength, courage and resilience of millions of refugees throughout the world. In recognition of this special day, all are invited to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the refugee communities in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
The celebration will showcase cultural music, dance, art, ethnic dress, exhibits and community conversations with refugee families; will provide crafts and games for children, and resources from community partners. Ice cream and light refreshments will be available, and attendees can bring a picnic.
For more information on “World Refugee Day,” contact Sonya Sarner at Catholic Social Services, 570-207-2283.
In conjunction with the visit to Scranton by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his recent statements about persons seeking asylum in the United States, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera has issued the following statement:
The development of a sound immigration policy that respects both the concerns of our nation and the needs of those individuals seeking asylum in our country for themselves and their children is a challenging task.
Sadly, current immigration policies have reached a critical point, with children and families with children who are seeking asylum being separated from one another.
These individuals are fleeing violence and chaos in their homelands, only to face policies that are destroying their families and unduly burdening their children.
While our borders must be protected and we must support the rule of law, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has asserted that “at its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life.” Separating children from their parents is an affront to the right to life. We must do all that we can to preserve and respect this right.
Peaceful Rally to Support Immigrants’ Rights
People of faith and concerned citizens will hold a peaceful rally in support of immigrant families and children. The rally is scheduled for Friday, June 15, 10:30-11:30 a.m., at the corner of N. Washington Avenue and Vine Street in Scranton, (in front of the library).
On behalf of the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton, we offer our prayers for all those affected by the terrible storms that recently struck our area. Several people were injured, and significant damage to properties and businesses is being reported. We are grateful for the dedication and hard work of so many emergency personnel, government officials and citizens who have been responding to this incident, and we commend the recovery efforts to God’s care.
“For more than 100 years, the Little Sisters of the Poor have provided compassionate, loving care to countless numbers of elderly and infirmed residents from throughout the Diocese of Scranton.
Although Holy Family Residence is not a Diocesan facility, the Little Sisters have tirelessly fulfilled the mission of the Church by providing for those in need of their care with a particular commitment to serving the poor in an atmosphere of respect, dignity, and love.
While there is sadness that the Sisters will no longer be able to continue their ministry in the Diocese of Scranton, we give thanks for their witness and dedicated service to the people of our region.”
Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Scranton
Press Release from Little Sisters of the Poor Little Sisters of the Poor to withdraw from Holy Family Residence, Scranton, PA
(05/30/2018) – Today the Little Sisters of the Poor announced with sadness, that they will be withdrawing from the Holy Family Residence in Scranton, PA. This morning the Sisters met with the Residents, their families, lay Associates, staff and volunteers sharing their decision.
The Little Sisters have served in the Diocese of Scranton continuously since 1908 when they began their ministry at the Maloney Home, the first Catholic Home dedicated to the care of the elderly poor of Scranton. In September 1976 Holy Family Residence, built on the same property, replaced the Maloney Home.
In making the announcement, Mother Alice Marie, the Little Sisters’ provincial superior, explained: “As part of a strategic plan aimed at strengthening our ministry and bolstering the quality of our religious and community life, we Little Sisters of the Poor have recognized the need to withdraw from a certain number of homes in the United States, while at the same time dedicating our resources to much needed upgrades and reconstruction projects in several others.”
The Little Sisters of the Poor are actively seeking a buyer for the Home with the hope of finding another mission-driven sponsor. They announced that they will provide periodic updates as the transition process proceeds.
In letters to the Residents and their family members, Mother Theresa Louisa, Superior of Holy Family Residence, also offered the Residents the possibility of moving to another Home sponsored by the Little Sister of the Poor. “Know that if you wish to go to any of our other Homes so that you can continue to be part of the Little Sisters’ family, you will be welcomed with open arms.”
Mother Alice Marie concluded the announcement by thanking all those who have supported Holy Family Residence and the Little Sisters of the Poor for so many years. In a special way she thanked the Diocese of Scranton for its leadership in promoting and supporting the mission of the Little Sisters of the Poor for the last 110 years. She assured everyone of the Sisters’ prayers and support throughout the transition period.
For further information, please contact Father Mark Cregan, C.S.C., Esq. at 917.767.2772.
Pope Francis has offered another hopeful message that should inspire each one of us to strive to be the person God created us to be. The Holy Father calls all of us to bear witness to God in our everyday lives and in all that we do, in particular by treating everyone we encounter with dignity and respect, especially the most vulnerable and those in need of our compassion and assistance – the unborn, the poor and destitute, migrants and refugees.
Our Holy Father states, “Let the grace of your baptism bear fruit in a path of holiness. Let everything be open to God; turn to him in every situation. Do not be dismayed, for the power of the Holy Spirit enables you to do this, and holiness, in the end, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life.”
As we reflect with gratitude on this Apostolic Exhortation, Pope Francis reminds us that our identification with Christ and His will involves a commitment to build with Him a “kingdom of love, justice and universal peace.”
Read the Apostolic Exhortation here: Rejoice and Be Glad
On this date 50 years ago – April 4, 1968 – our nation and indeed the world were shocked by the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – a true apostle of peace, equality and non-violence. As we mark that tragic event, we also commemorate Dr. King’s great achievements to promote racial equality, dignity and justice for all people – ideals that are at the very core of our Christian faith. And we again commit ourselves to working, through prayer and action, for peaceful resolutions to the issues that still challenge us as a society. This is the mission that will truly honor Dr. King’s legacy.