Interfaith prayer service for National Migration Week in the United States

A PERSONAL REFLECTION ON THE CLOSING OBSERVANCE OF NATIONAL MIGRATION WEEK

            This past Saturday, I planned to attend the screening of One Border, One Body at a nearby parish. This was part of the “Film Festival” organized by the Chicago archdiocesan program of Immigrant Parish Coordinators as part of the observance of National Migration Week. But, as elsewhere in the country that day, the weather did not cooperate and I could not get there.  So I watched the film privately through the internet.

            That actually became a powerful mindset for my participation in Sunday’s Interfaith Service, Becoming a Community of Hope, sponsored by the Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants. For four years now, it has become our closing celebration for National Migration Week.

            With representation from the African American, Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian traditions, we heard from each representative the common themes that all of their writings and teachings express: hospitality, hope, welcoming the stranger, respect for differences. As would be expected in this kind of service, we were “preaching to the choir”, but it is good for the choir to be reminded together of the common concerns that so many of us carry. It was an affirmation of the need to persevere in our care for the immigrant, the refugee, the asylum seeker.

            Two of the traditions specifically mentioned their understanding of hope, reflecting that, in those traditions, hope’s opposite, depression, is seen as an offense against God because it assumes a lack of trust in God’s providence. This was something I think I needed to hear at this point in time amidst all the difficulties and crises going on around the world and in our midst.  We closed in a Circle of Communities around the church singing Sr. Miriam Therese Winters’, lyrical adaptation of America the Beautiful.

            So I drove home that night buoyed by the mercy, goodness and  power of our God who, in spite of the limitations of the human beings God has created, is still more powerful than all the negativity we manage to create. HOPE STILL PREVAILS.

Reception following service, an opportunity to share food, fellowship and information display
Native American (our only non immigrants) flautist during opening prayer to the four directions.

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