“There is neither Jew nor Greek . . . for you are all one in Christ Jesus”
We the Pastor and Parish Council of St. Thomas Aquinas are disappointed that recent news compels us to state that which is obvious to any follower of the Gospel: that each person, regardless of the place or circumstances of his or her birth is afforded an equal share of human dignity by the Creator. It is our duty as Christians to affirm that dignity, through words and actions, particularly when our leaders fail to do so.
Our efforts to live the Gospel through social action have, for many years, been tied to communities in Haiti and Africa. Communities that we know through our exchanges to be places where people just like us experience the same joys and sadness, same hopes and disappointments that we here do. Because those same communities have been carelessly described in a broad and dehumanizing manner, we feel compelled to reaffirm our commitment to them.
For decades, St. Thomas has worked to improve our brother’s and sister’s lives in our sister-parish of St. Jean Marie in Belle Riviere, Haiti, providing teacher salaries, school supplies and medical support among many other services. St. Thomas has partnered with the Global Interfaith Partnership through the Umoja Project to provide services to orphans and vulnerable children in areas of Kenya hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Most recently, with the arrival of Father Michael Hoyt, who serves as the Archdiocese’s French-speaking chaplain, St. Thomas has been blessed to welcome a largely West-African congregation to a monthly Mass at our church.
The ugly words to which we respond, cast people from Haiti and Africa as takers, from whom, no matter how much we give, we can expect no good in return. We know this to be a lie. No matter how much we have given to the peoples of Haiti and Africa, they have given us far more in return. The Creole songs we sing at Mass, the experiences and stories of our missionary workers, the vibrant liturgy of our African brothers and sisters testify to the truth that these communities are stitched into the fabric of our community here at St. Thomas Aquinas. We would not be St. Thomas Aquinas without them, just as the United States of America would not be what it is but for its welcome of immigrants from around the world.
This joy we’ve received from our interactions with Haiti and Africa does not surprise us as St. Thomas Aquinas, because in giving of ourselves to these communities we’ve done no more than Jesus asked of us in Matthew 25: to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and welcome the stranger. If others have forgotten those words, we ask that you do not.
Father Michael Hoyt
Tom Mulhern, President
Tim DeLaney, VP
Jenny Lurkins, Finance Chair
Vicente Giordanelli, School Commission Chair