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Bishop's Column-I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me

Posted on September 01, 2022 in: Reflections, Vocations

Bishop's Column-I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me

September 2022 Four County Catholic

I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Maintaining the dignity of life through its entire earthly journey is one of the essential callings of our beliefs. At the core, it defines our Catholic faith and who we are –– sons and daughters of a loving God.

A recent development in our diocese serves as a wonderful example of the dignity of life and the biblical teaching of hospitality.

What is hospitality? Going beyond the secular understanding of hospitality, which is to extend kindness to those whom we are acquainted, the bible teaches hospitality as the virtue of kindness and generosity toward strangers and guests. It is characterized by a spirit of welcome to those to whom we may not be acquainted or in some cases can be seen as dissimilar to us.

Saint Bernard School located in Uncasville, is extending this spirit of hospitality to seven Ukrainian students who have been displaced due to the ongoing war in their homeland. 

Headmaster, Don Macrino and the leadership staff of Saint Bernard School decided to help these young war refugees from Ukraine complete their education, supplying them with books and supplies as well as tuition. 

This act of hospitality is extending well beyond the walls of the school to the larger Saint Bernard School community as local families open their homes to these students. This opportunity will be a benefit to all involved as they move from strangers to friends.

The call to hospitality is found throughout the Bible, beginning in Genesis, where God as host provides a garden for Adam and Eve and walks with them in that garden. 

Further on in Genesis, Abraham and Sarah welcome and prepare a lavish meal for three strangers, messengers of God, sent to reveal that Sarah would give birth to a son. 

Maybe we as individuals are not in a position to take refugees into our homes. We are not all called to do that. What we can do is identify those among us who are strangers and begin to act hospitably towards them. 

Who in your life is a stranger?  It might be a son or daughter who has moved away from the church. Perhaps a neighbor or family member holds an opposing political view, or a member of your parish does not accept all church teaching. How might we be hospitable towards them? 

We can start by loving them where they are. Interactions that are harsh, controlling, shaming, or meant to impress another, while not only unproductive, are not inspired by God. Blaming or accusing is not how God talks. 

We can trust it as the voice of God If it comes from a place of love and can be passed on to others with love.

A wonderful demonstration of hospitality and respect for life takes place throughout the diocese at Saint Vincent dePaul Middletown and Saint Vincent dePaul in Norwich and the four Catholic Charities locations. 

Staff and volunteers reach out to help our brothers and sisters in need – the poor and disadvantaged among us. Your support of these and other diocesan ministries with your time or financial support means so much to so many. Thank you to those who have stepped forward with their prayers and donations, especially during the last few years when the need has been the greatest.

Finally, know that the Lord is looking for hospitality. In the book of Revelation He said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with Me.” 

Let Him in.

I pray that we all can be hospitable to the strangers among us because as St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Hebrews “Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.”

May God’s love shine through you to bless the strangers in your life.

Sincerely yours in the hospitality of Christ,

Michael R. Cote
Bishop of Norwich

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