‘Encountering the Strangers Among Us’ by Bishop DiMarzio

January 11, 2017 – Excerpted from Put Out Into the Deep, Bishop DiMarzio’s column in The Tablet.

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

For over 35 years, the first week after the Epiphany, has been designated as National Migration Week. This year it occurred from Jan. 8 to 14. The Church in the United States, recognizing that it has become again an immigrant Church, must understand a new culture that has grown in the Church. This year’s theme, “Creating a Culture of Encounter,” comes from the first Pentecost homily of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, where he emphasizes the importance of encounter in the Christian faith. He says, “For me, this word is very important. Encounter with others. Why? Because faith is an encounter with Jesus and we must do what Jesus does: encounter others.”

The Lord, Jesus, had one pastoral method: encounter and making friends with people. He seemed to have that ability to encounter others and engage them almost immediately in life-changing situations. Jesus called the Apostles from their work and they followed Him; Peter and Andrew and Matthew. He met the Samaritan Woman at the well and engaged in deep conversation with her. He encountered the two disciples on the way to Emmaus and they too had life-changing experiences. Our call to a greater culture of encounter with immigrants follows the mandate of Jesus in the scene of the Last Judgment when He tells us, “Whoever welcomes a stranger, welcomes me.”

Read the full text of the Bishop’s column on The Tablet website.