Create a New Vision for Welcoming the Stranger

Pope Francis, in his encyclical letter, Fratelli Tutti, states: “If the conviction that all human beings are brothers and sisters is not to remain an abstract idea but to find concrete embodiment, then numerous related issues emerge, forcing us to see things in a new light and to develop new responses…Complex challenges arise when our neighbor happens to be an immigrant…Our response to the arrival of migrating persons can be summarized by four words: welcome, protect, promote and integrate (Chapter 4). His Holiness often returns to the theme and to these four words in his homilies and presentations urging all the faithful especially religious communities to envision and create new ways of welcoming the stranger in our midst.

With that in mind, I want to let you know of a new program launched by the United States Government. On January 18, 2023, the Department of State initiated promotion of a new approved sponsorship program for refugees wishing to permanently resettle in the United States. The program is known as the Welcome Corps. The tenets of the program are like the resettlement program sponsored for many years by the Canadian Government and supported by the Catholic Church of Canada, notably the Archdiocese of Toronto, and our friars at the Franciscan Church at St. Bonaventure.

The program is designed to aid and assist pre-approved refugees, migrants, and immigrants for permanent life in the United States. This new private sponsorship program is designed to empower everyday Americans to play a leading role in welcoming refugees arriving through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and supporting their resettlement and integration as they build new lives. Over many years and in this past year, the American people have extended an extraordinarily welcoming hand to our Afghan allies, Ukrainians displaced by war, and Venezuelans and others fleeing violence and oppression. The Welcome Corps will build on Americans’ generosity of spirit by creating a durable program for Americans in communities across the country to privately sponsor refugees from around the world.

Building on a long tradition of providing refuge, the Welcome Corps is designed to bring groups together (including church-based communities) to privately sponsor refugees. Through the Welcome Corps, Americans can apply to form Private Sponsor Groups (PSGs) to welcome refugees into local communities and directly assist refugee newcomers as they build new lives in the United States. As a private sponsor in the Welcome Corps, they will work with other members of the PSG to take on tasks like securing and furnishing initial housing, greeting the refugee newcomers at the airport, enrolling children in school, and helping adults to find employment. These shared acts of welcome make it easier for refugee newcomers to adjust to life in the United States and strengthen local communities. While welcoming refugees through private sponsorship is a significant responsibility, you already have the most important skill you need to succeed—knowledge of your local community—and you will receive support from the Welcome Corps team throughout your sponsorship journey.

Groups of at least five individual American citizens or permanent resident adults will be able to apply to the Welcome Corps to privately sponsor the resettlement of refugees in the United States. Private sponsors (which includes church-based groups) will be responsible for independently raising funds and directly providing essential assistance to refugees for their first 90 days in their new community. This assistance includes helping refugees find housing and employment, enrolling children in school, and connecting refugees to essential services in the community. For more information on the Welcome Corps or to become a private sponsor, visit the Welcome Corps website.

Pax et bonum…

Friar Paul Lininger, OFM Conv.
Franciscan Friars Conventual
Our Lady of the Angels Province – Director of JPIC

Giving Tuesday ~ Farm Focus

For four growing seasons, Little Portion Farm has benefitted from a great many gifts bestowed by the people and other creatures who visit and inhabit the land, by the land itself, and, of course, by the Creator above. The soil, sun and rain bestow their gifts on the seeds generously planted by volunteers. The seeds themselves sprout by a process that we may take for granted, but is, in reality, a miraculous burst of life flowing from above.

JPIC Farm Focus

Like many things in gardening, and life as a whole, the frost happens beyond our control. And this is, indeed, a blessing, as it also marks a shift from the hectic season of harvesting to a slower, more reflective period, which comes as a welcome relief.

“The Letter. A Message for Our Earth”

Excerpt taken from the October 7, 2022 article,
“A Message for Our Earth,”
on FranciscanVoiceorg:

Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Fr. Michael Lasky, OFM Conv. serves the Order as Delegate General for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, in Rome. He was “invited to the Vatican for the premier of THE LETTER: A Message for Our Earth, a new film about Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si’. The film is a Virtutus speculum…mirror of virtue, as it turns a prophetic document into a story by putting a human face on statistics.

Documentary available on YouTube:

For a free downloadable version of the film,
as well as study guides for schools,
sign up to host a screening.

‘The Letter’ Press Conference – October 4, 2022

JPIC Message

“Fratelli tutti”

The Encyclical of Pope Francis on Fraternity and Social Friendship

The days of the long hot Summer of 2022 are fading, as Autumn ushers onto the scene. Arriving hopefully, as St. Francis expressed in the, “Canticle of the Sun,” with an array of the beauty, grandeur and splendor of God radiated in all creationThis changing of the season also reminds us that the Feast Day of Our Holy Father Francis grows near. In remote preparation for the coming (October 4th) Feast, as Our Lady of the Angels Province JPIC Director, I would like to invite you to read, reread, or perhaps listen to for the first time,
Pope Francis’ Encyclical – “Fratelli tutti.”

The Introduction to the encyclical captures Pope Francis’ understanding of the spirit of our Franciscan way of life: “Inspired by Saint Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis gives us “Fratelli tutti,” a proposal for a way of life marked by the flavour of the Gospel. It is a call to love others as brothers and sisters, even when they are far from us; it is a call to open fraternity, to recognizing and loving every person with a love without borders; it is a call to encounter others in a way that is capable of overcoming all distance and every temptation to engage in disputes, impositions, or submissions.” Hopefully, encountering the insights so wonderfully presented by Pope Francis may stir our collective reflection and its meaning for us as Franciscan Friars Conventual today.

For your convenience linked here is a PDF Version of the encyclical along with a PDF version of a short-handed ‘at-a-glance’ summary of the text.  For those who may not always have time, are better auditory learners, or for those on the go, here is a link to an audio recording that contains the Introduction and Chapter 01. In the Introduction and 1st Chapter, Pope Francis lists the issues confronting God’s people. Skillfully, in a nonjudgmental fashion, he lays out the problems facing all humanity. And he reminds us that none of them can be healed with simple fixes nor can they be treated with band-aids. In the successive chapters, Pope Francis prophetically addresses the issues calling upon all to listen attentively to God’s grace in this moment of history.

Our Franciscan response to the multiple issues facing humanity urges us to look deep within and ask, “Am I advocate or adversary to the grace of God? Is faith leading life or has it taken a back step to something else leading? What does it mean to be committed to the Gospel of Christ Jesus and to the mission of seeing as St. Francis did; all peoples as brother and sister?”

Audio version of the entire encyclical narrated by Kevin Karam, SJ

Who is Kevin Karam, SJ?


Audio Version – Chapter by Chapter


As always, Thank You for your commitment, efforts and service to making the Making the Gospel Real – Today!  You do make a difference!

Pax et bonum…
Fr. Paul

Friar Paul Lininger, OFM Conv.
Our Lady of the Angles Province – Director of JPIC
Franciscan Friars Conventual