Welcoming America (www.welcomingamerica.org), an initiative started in Iowa in 2004, continued in Nashville, TN, in 2005, and now spread throughout the United States, has as its goal the development of receptive communities where immigrants may thrive. As their web site states: “Welcoming America focuses on the communities where new immigrants have made their homes, helping neighbors build relationships built on trust and understanding. Instead of focusing on the seed, we concentrate on preparing the soil in which it will flourish.” Among the many cities and counties participating are Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Dayton, Denver, Dodge City, Louisville, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Tucson.
Although Garden City is not among the cities listed on the Welcoming America website, our Sr. Janice Thome, OP, reported at a recent meeting of the Immigration Reform Committee that the city decided to take action to welcome immigrants when they agreed to accept Tyson Foods as an employer in the city. City and social service organizations like the United Methodist Mexican-American Ministries committed to work to help find housing and services for the new arrivals in this town of about 28,000 people.
As people of faith look to “show the world a church without borders, as mother of all,” in the words of Pope Francis, these civic initiatives are heartening and invite us to contribute as we are able to greater understanding between Americans and the immigrants who enrich our cultural understandings and enlarge our tents.
Today is a special day to appreciate the culture of the Mexicans among us as they celebrate “Cinco de Mayo,” in parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dances and traditional foods. The day commemorates the 1862 victory of Mexican forces against the invading French army in Puebla. This victory came to be associated in the minds of Mexicans in the United States with the Union victory against slavery and prejudice. Today it is seen as the Day of Mexican pride in the United States where it is celebrated much more than in Mexico.