By Ed Wilkinson
Almost 1,000 immigrants to Brooklyn and Queens joined Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio at the annual diocesan celebration of World Migration Day, April 30 at St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral, Prospect Heights.
“For 45 years, Catholic Migration Services (CMS) has strived to welcome the stranger in our midst,” said Father Patrick Keating, in his homily.
Father Keating, executive director of CMS, added, “Today we gather from different nations, speaking different languages, but united in one faith in Jesus Christ.”
Acknowledging that immigrants face obstacles when they come to a foreign land, he urged them “not to forget the lessons of your ancestors which you bring from other lands. The Diocese of Brooklyn is blessed because it truly is the Diocese of Immigrants.”
Joining Bishop DiMarzio on the altar were Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros, who was born in Cuba, and Haitian-born retired Auxiliary Bishop Guy Sansaricq.
Father Keating also recognized that Msgr. Ronald Marino, vicar for Migrant and Ethnic Services, is celebrating his 35th year of serving the immigrants of Brooklyn and Queens.
Readings at Mass were in Korean, Spanish, Creole and English. The Prayer of the Faithful was said in the many different languages of those present.
“Today is a wonderful day because we see everyone come together as one,” said Bishop DiMarzio. “This is the Eucharist and it is a wonderful opportunity to share the unity of everyone.
“We are a multi-ethnic diocese. This has been our history and it continues to be our history, so we have to recognize multi-ethnic needs, the language needs, the cultural needs, to integrate the people into the Church of Brooklyn and Queens.”
Bishop Cisneros described the day as “integral to us because we are the Diocese of Immigrants.”
“Brooklyn is a composite of everybody in the world. We come to celebrate who we are. It gives us identity.
“This day is important for the diocese. It’s very important to the immigrants. It’s a moment o celebrate who we are, our identity, our history, and at the same time, our unity, one Church, one Lord, one Baptism.”
Msgr. Marino praised the 45-year history of Catholic Migration Services, saying that its strength is in its honesty and expertise.
“We are honest,” he said. “We don’t tell people we can do something we can’t do for them. If we can’t get them a Green Card, we tell them we can’t do it.”
He said that too often immigrants fall victim to lawyers who tell them they can do anything and take their money, but CMS’s attorneys only do migration law and they are well-trained in the process.
He said that whenever the diocese celebrates World Migration Day, “it renews me and it renews the diocese. It is a celebration of our unity. This is who we are. It’s our history.”