Gomez: God is calling immigrant church to be 'light' to nation of immigrants

A new U.S. citizen in New York City is seen July 22, 2020, during his naturalization ceremony amid the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS photo/Shannon Stapleton, Reuters)

Catholic News Service

LOS ANGELES — Catholics from across Southern California and beyond joined Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles Sept. 20 for Masses in English and Spanish to celebrate the annual Day in Recognition of All Immigrants.

The Masses were live-streamed from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles.

“We belong to God. He gives us life so that we can serve Christ, so that we can labor and bear fruit in his vineyard, which is the kingdom that he has planted and is growing in the world. God is one and the human race that he created is one! But he creates us as “many” — many races, many nationalities, many languages, and ethnic cultures,” Archbishop Gomez said in his homily.

“We are ‘many’ because God delights in all this variety and diversity, he loves all these colors and cultures of peoples,” he said. “No one, not any one of us, is the same as anyone else. That’s because God loves each of us as a totally unique creation.”

Archbishop Gomez added that “for all this diversity that we can see in God’s vineyard, we are still one. One people, one family. In this moment, I believe God is calling our immigrant church to be a light to our immigrant nation.”

At the end of Mass, Kaithlyn, a Catholic high school student and unaccompanied minor from Nicaragua, shared her story of how she reunited with her mother in Los Angeles after leaving her country of origin seeking asylum in the U.S. due violence against her family. Kaithlyn left Nicaragua when she was 13.

“I believe that if you have God in your heart then you will be nice to people and people will be nice to you,” said Kaithlyn. “I would always pray when I was at the immigration process center with two other girls. We would pray together. We prayed that people would treat us right and that we would stay safe.”

She added, “I’m very grateful that this country has given my family a place to feel safe and I will always do my best to be an example to others.”

The Sept. 20 Masses and an archdiocesan-wide virtual novena lead up to the World Day of Migrants and Refugees designated by Pope Francis for Sept. 27. Catholics can join in the novena — nine days of prayer and reflection — at https://lacatholics.org/immigration-novena.

Traditionally, the Day in Recognition of All Immigrants Mass is a culmination of a three-day, 60-mile walking pilgrimage by a group of faithful led by Don Antonio, from Orange County, California, to the Los Angeles cathedral as “a symbol of solidarity for all those impacted by the nation’s broken immigration system,” an archdiocesan release said.

Due to the pandemic, Antonio walked alone this year, and was welcomed to the cathedral by Archbishop Gomez the morning of Sept. 20.

Antonio encouraged everyone to do their own pilgrimage in solidarity with the immigrant community — online.

Virtual pilgrimage participants may register online and commit to any number of miles for their journey. Participants have until Dec. 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to complete their pilgrimage.

The website’s registration area also has an option to donate to Catholic Charities in the Los Angeles Archdiocese to support immigrant and refugee efforts.

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