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I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me

By Deb Shannon, Associate

Immigration – and confusion worldwide over what to do about it – is headline news these days. But if you’re an Associate or Sister, how might you live the message of Matthew 25:35: “I was hungry and you gave me food... a stranger and you welcomed me...”?

That was the focus of the autumn Oregon Associate retreat on Oct. 8. Three dozen Associates and Sisters attended.

Participants shared stories of their families’ arrival in the U.S. As one Associate said, it was shocking to look at a multi-generational family photo and see the beat-up hands of farmers. The photo had an impact, she said: “I’ve ridden piggyback on the backs of people who suffered greatly.”

Realizing that, what individual actions can we take regarding immigration? Sister Guadalupe Guajardo of the Province Leadership Team, one of the retreat speakers, rejected taking action based on guilt. Instead, she urged retreatants to come up with “SMART” actions: ones that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely.

Sister Mary Rita Rohde said to look around you to see what the needs are, then collaborate with others to meet the needs.

Both speakers urged participants to educate themselves. Resources with accurate information on immigration are available through the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center, SNJM Mission Centres, UNANIMA International and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In the picture: Sisters Mary Rita Rohde and Guadalupe Guajardo help lead the SNJM Associate retreat in Marylhurst, Oregon. Photo courtesy of Sister Virginia Schroeder.