Dear friends of CLINIC,
The month of January, following National Migration week, brings us additional opportunities to reflect on opportunities of pastoral care for our immigrant families.
As we work together in the sometime complicated world of R-1s, F-1s, and so on, there are always individuals and families behind these letters with real needs and real concerns who have come to us because they see us as a family of Faith, the Body of Christ, and they often do not know where else to turn.
I am thinking specifically these days of Catholic Schools Week, and all of the other events surrounding the Roe v. Wade anniversary.
Catholic schools in our country were founded in the last century to meet the need of so many immigrant families who came to the United States seeking a better way of life. Yet, they often met challenges related to the “Nativist” movement and mentality of that time and place. Catholic schools were founded by steadfast heroic families, priests, and religious to strengthen the Catholic Faith of immigrant families and to provide an education for them so that they could develop their God-given gifts and talents and through education, to find their way to employment and advancement in our country. Here in the Diocese of Orange we are working to strengthen our schools (particularly in Santa Ana) that serve immigrant populations. The mission is the same: to provide our new immigrant families with the same blessings and advantages that Catholic schools did years ago. I would encourage our friends of CLINIC that Catholic schools are a time-tested way of helping our immigrant families through education, faith, and justice. How can anyone of us reach out to immigrant families this month to help them discover the value and blessing of Catholic schools that are unique to the Church in the United States?
These past months here in Orange I participated in a Mass for “discapacedades” (handicapped). Their presence and the care of their families and communities were an eloquent testimony to the gift and the value of human life in the unborn and disadvantaged. Not only did those families choose not to abort their children, but their community, of its nature, shares the responsibilities for their care. The care and witness of these families testifies indeed, in the words of Pope Francis, that the children are not “throw away.” Many of our immigrant families come to us with a sense of the sacredness and value of life present in them. How can we strengthen that, and help them to maintain that in the face of our culture which in many ways does not value the weak, the preborn, and the marginalized? The anniversary of Roe v. Wade gives us an opportunity to reflect on this. In one of our parishes the Respect Life coordinator was in danger of being deported. Thankfully this did not happen, but this instance was a reminder how all of these concerns can “intersect” in one person!
Thank you for all that you do and the families and parish communities that you serve!
God bless you always.
+Kevin W. Vann
*The Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann is Bishop of Orange and the Chair of CLINIC’s Board of Directors.