A Different Look for Thanksgiving This Year

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” — Psalm 100:4 

When the word “Thanksgiving” is uttered, what is the thought that most quickly comes to mind? Is it putting aside the demands and pressures of daily life to gather once again with loved ones around a feast, to remember how blessed we have been in the last year, and pray for more such blessings in the years to come? 

This year in the diocese, as this holiday built around expressions of gratitude once again approaches, it might be more appropriate to change its traditional name from Thanksgiving to “Giving thanks.” 

Because this year — in addition to being thankful just for surviving dangerous and arduous treks to escape troubled native countries to pursue new lives and new opportunities here in the United States — migrants who come to St. Gabriel Church in East New York or St. Pius V Church in Jamaica will be giving thanks for the free meals they’ll get there. 

Migrants who make their way to St. Matthew Church in Crown Heights or St. Michael-St. Malachy Parish in East New York will also be giving thanks for the rooms full of free clothing collected for them by generous congregants. 

“I’m grateful to God that I can come here to get a meal and warm clothes,” said one migrant who got to New York on Oct. 16 after a weeks-long journey from his native Venezuela. 

Still, other migrants will be giving thanks for being steered from St. Michael-St. Malachy to the Bronx, where the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is providing free training to pave the way for them to obtain safety certificates that will allow them to get coveted construction jobs. 

“Everyone wants a job,” Father Brendan Buckley, pastor of St. Michael-St. Malachy, said of the newcomers willing to travel from homeless shelters two boroughs away in search of employment opportunities. “None of them is looking for a handout.” 

Then there will be migrant parents who have chosen to make a future here in New York, who will give thanks that their children will have an opportunity to receive a quality Catholic education that will put them on a path toward successful lives. 

Earlier this year, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, said Catholic schools in the archdiocese were prepared to offer scholarships so that children of newly arrived families who want to settle here can afford to attend those schools. 

But it won’t just be newly-arrived migrants who will be giving thanks for the help in coping with desperate situations as the harshest weather of the year looms. 

With hundreds of local tenants in danger of being evicted from their homes because their cases are backlogged in an understaffed and hopelessly snarled Housing Court system, Catholic Migration Services is advocating for more funding to pay for lawyers to represent them. 

The Diocese of Brooklyn — with its 188 parishes — will once again offer food pantries, coat drives, flea markets, and a variety of other assistance for those less fortunate. 

And those who receive the generosity, who need it, will be grateful. 

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:16