Evangelization and the Ministry of the Office for Immigrant Affairs And Immigration Education
The overlying mission of the Office for Immigrant Affairs and Immigration Education is that of evangelization, that is, living in community along the lines of the Gospel, seeking transformation of individuals through the Gospel so that they may be agents of change in societies. Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” states that, “Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others.” (39) We, as an office, call upon people to reflect on and be transformed daily by the Gospel so that they may serve as lights and bridges in immigrant and non-immigrant communities through their work to bring out the Kingdom of God.
The ministries and networks in our office live out this evangelizing spirit in their various ministries. Each one of them calls its pastoral agents on all levels to self-reflect and be formed by their lived experiences, seen through the lens of faith, so that they can engage with the larger community to respond to the signs of the times. This is a premise that has been formed in the concluding document of the Latin American Bishops Conference’s (CELAM) meeting in Aparecida, and further developed upon through Pope Francis’ writings, specifically “The Joy of the Gospel.” As the Latin American Bishops state, “It is our supreme task as missionary disciples of Jesus Christ to witness love for God and for neighbor with concrete works. Alberto Hurtado [Chilean Jesuit and Saint] used to say, ‘In our works, our people know that we understand their suffering;” (386).
The Office for Immigrant Affairs lives out the evangelical mission through responding to the realities of the immigrant community in the Archdiocese of Chicago and beyond. Employing the “Listen, Learn, Proclaim” method (a take of the “See, Judge, Act” method developed through CELAM) our pastoral agents listen to the realities around them and to the realities of the immigrant community, take the realities and apply them to scripture and Catholic Social Teaching in order to learn what God is saying or understanding where God is, and then go forth and proclaim by working to bring about the Kingdom of God here and now. Through education, accompaniment, advocacy, and empowerment our ministries seek to create a space of justice, solidarity, and compassion so that we may walk as one community.
Pope Francis states in “The Joy of the Gospel” that:
An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others. Evangelizers thus take on the “smell of the sheep” and the sheep are willing to hear their voice. An evangelizing community is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be. It is familiar with patient expectation and apostolic endurance (24).
We as an office seek to work with and through the immigrant community to live in communion as one multi-cultural community in the Archdiocese.