By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Catholics are called to welcome the stranger at the door and share the love of Christ with them, said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz at the Jan. 7 National Migration Week Prayer Service.
The gathering at the Cathedral of the Assumption served as an opportunity to recognize migrants and refugees, who were represented in the congregation.
The prayer service also launched the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Days of Human Dignity, a series of events intended to promote the inherent dignity in every human being. (See a list of other events on page 6.)
During the service Archbishop Kurtz said the church welcomes migrant families — “people who have traveled looking for a better life, looking for a better opportunity for themselves to contribute to the life of our world.”
He noted that each family has a migration story, some recent and others in the distant past.
“Regardless of where we are from, we remain part of the human family and are called to live in solidarity with one another.”
The archbishop called on the faithful to engage with migrants in a meaningful way.
“Let us take the opportunity to engage migrant individuals as community members, as neighbors and as friends. Now is the time to welcome every stranger who knocks at our door and show them the love of Christ,” he said.
During his homily, the archbishop recalled the day’s reading from the first letter of John, which calls people to love one another.
“It didn’t say tolerate one another, like put up with one another. No, we are called to love one another, to get to know the other person well enough that they become like your family,” he said.
When you love another person, he said, you change.
“When you let another person in your life you become a different person,” he said.
Archbishop Kurtz noted that the prayer service was one of the Days of Human Dignity and asked those gathered to consider what dignity means.
“It means that you and I and every human being were created in the image of God with such dignity we will never understand the greatness of the gift of life that God has given to each of us,” he said.
Dignity is a gift given to everyone but it is also a task, he said.
The celebration of migration week — which is organized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops — emphasizes four elements, the archbishop noted. They are to welcome, protect, promote and integrate.
“As we pray for one another, think about that person who maybe right now is struggling, who has to leave their home, has to give up everything they had,” he said.
He noted many reasons a person may need to migrate: to escape violence, for religious liberty, lack of job opportunities or in search of a better life.
“We welcome the person in front of us; we welcome the stranger. We welcome the person who needs our help, just as our family was welcomed at one time,” he said.
Following the prayer service, a reception featuring foods from around the world was held in the Cathedral Undercroft.
The Days of Human Dignity series continues into February with a variety of programs listed at right.
For more information on the Days of Human Dignity, visit www.archlou.org/days-of-human-dignity.