Several dozen members of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland St. John the Evangelist Leadership Guild met on July 9 at Sagrada Familia Parish in Cleveland’s Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood to enjoy fellowship and hear a moving talk by Sister Rita Mary Harwood, SND outlining the teaching of the Church regarding the theology of migration. Titled, “The Joy of Accompaniment: Welcoming the Stranger,” Sister Rita Mary, secretary of parish life and development, offered detailed insight that included scriptural and ecclesial references upon which the Church’s teaching on migration and immigration is built. She also reminded those gathered that, “the story of immigration is a human story of people just like you and me, of families like yours, of people struggling for life, hope and safety.”
As part of her talk, Sister Rita Mary shared with the group an account of Pope Francis’ first trip outside the Vatican to the Island of Lampedusa where he saw first-hand the desperate flight of migrants from Africa and the Middle East who were fleeing to Italy to seek a better life, safety and religious freedom. Many died en route. She also outlined the five, “Catholic Principals Guiding Immigration Action” which are:
- Persons have the right to find opportunities in their homeland to live, work and provide for their families.
- Persons have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families.
- Sovereign nations have the right to control their borders.
- Refugees and asylum seekers should be offered protection.
- The human dignity of human rights of all migrants should be respected.
For more information, see justiceforimmigrants.org/what-we-are-working-on/immigration/catholic-principles-of-migration/
Bishop Nelson Perez also attended the event and spoke to the guild members. He told the group that the Catholic Church is deeply involved in the immigration debate because, “The Church has always been on the side of those in need and the vulnerable. We walk with them because it is the right thing to do.”
Sagrada Familia Parish pastor Father Robert Reidy welcomed the guild and provided a short history of the parish’s founding.
The St. John the Evangelist Leadership Guild represents a group of generous benefactors of the diocese who gather regularly for the encouragement of personal spiritual development. The Catholic Community Foundation organizes events that provide guild members opportunities for prayer and to experience first-hand the people, places and programs that make up the Church in the diocese.