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Third Sunday of Easter
April 30, 2017

Click here to listen to this homily! (mp4 file)

     The beautiful gospel story of the Road to Emmaus is a favorite of mine and perhaps of yours. I love its pensive quality -- the calm, reflective way in which Luke tells us the journey of those two downhearted disciples who walked with Jesus along the road not knowing it was Jesus.

     Luke tells us that Emmaus is a village some seven miles from Jerusalem but I find it interesting that, even though it appears on nearly every pilgrim map of the Holy Land, many scholars are not convinced that the real Emmaus has ever been found.  For that reason, we can think of Emmaus as representing every place -- not just one place -- and of the road to Emmaus as every road we travel. Isn’t it wonderful to think that no matter what road it is we travel in life, Jesus is our companion?  Even if we don’t always recognize him, he’s no less a companion for that.

     And along the road come dark and difficult days as we, much like those two disciples of old, find ourselves short on hope and maybe even lost in sadness because Jesus seems to be absent. But the Emmaus story tells us that if we hold on during the dark times and invite him to stay with us, he will.  And not only will he stay with us, he will open our eyes and make himself known to us in the Breaking of the Bread.

     My friends, this opening up of minds and hearts takes place here week after week when we gather in this holy place where Jesus makes himself known to us in the scriptures proclaimed, in the Bread that is broken, and in one another. How blessed we are to have a wonderful parish like this. How blessed we are not to be alone on the road of life, the road to Emmaus. 

     But this parish is not an island.  Far from it. It is part of the Archdiocese of Seattle, a large network of parishes, communities, ministries, and services, each of them, in one way or another, helping people to meet Christ along the road of life and to come to know him and love him. This morning/evening we are asked to think about that larger Church and how we can support it through the Annual Catholic Appeal.

     I hope I didn’t just give you liturgical whiplash!  Not my intention! The Annual Catholic Appeal really is about the journey of faith and about helping people meet Christ along that journey.  Let me remind you of a few of the ways you help people meet Christ by your generous gift to the Annual Catholic Appeal.

     Your Annual Appeal contribution supports the ministry of Archbishop Sartain, the education of our seminarians, the ongoing formation of lay leaders and lay catechists, our extensive network of Catholic grade and high schools (the 6th largest in the State), our CYO Camps and athletic programs for our kids. It also supports the great work of Catholic Community Services - its housing for the elderly, the poor, the disabled, veterans, migrant workers and their families; its shelters for homeless men and women; its pregnancy support and adoption services.

     These are things you know well. You know, too, that each year the Archdiocese sets an Annual Appeal goal for the entire Archdiocese and one for each parish.  The overall goal this year for the Archdiocese is $11.7 million. Our parish’s share of that - our goal - is $365,209, a huge sum of money, for sure!

     So, the only way we can possibly meet our goal is if the more financially able among us step forward and give even more generously than in the past. This is what you’ve always done and I have confidence that you will do it again this year. Did you know that, thanks to you, our parish leads all the other parishes of the archdiocese in giving to the Annual Appeal!

      And let me remind you that everything you give over and above our $365,000 goal will come directly back to us as a rebate.  And I know you won’t be surprised when I remind you that we need the rebate and how your generosity makes it possible for us to count on a significant rebate when we do our budgeting.

       Let me conclude by sharing with you why we especially need the rebate this year. We will use the rebate this year to support our St. James Immigrant Assistance Program — which in these challenging times for immigrants and refugees is more important than ever before.  To tell you why, I’ve invited one of the program staff members, Caroline Okello. Please join me in welcoming Caroline.

Father Michael G. Ryan 

 

Thank you, Father Ryan. I am an immigrant and, like all immigrants, it was the zeal to stay alive that made me an immigrant. When I started a family, I never envisioned being separated from my children - over 8,000 miles away from them - for over 8 years now. It is very painful!

Before relocating to the United States, I first fled from my homeland of Kenya to Kigali, Rwanda for about a year. With very few choices, I did all I could to stay alive and safe before I could save my children, and that included making quick and difficult decisions. The most painful one was to leave behind my 12 year old daughter with my aging mother, in the village.

Even though I found safety in the US, I had many fears; fear about starting fresh in a country where I knew no one; fear that I would never see my children and family again; fear that my application to stay here might be denied and I would be sent back to the country I was fleeing from worse off than before. Fear and stress became a constant part of my life.

By God’s grace and mercy, I was granted authorization to stay, but only my youngest child was allowed to join me, and that was after two very painful years. But I counted my blessings; it could have been worse.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve of 2015. Since the Christmas Eve mass here at St. James is very popular, my daughter and I came early, and that gave me time to go through the fliers in the pews. One flyer caught my eyes; it was about the St. James Immigrant Assistance program and becoming a citizen.  I think of it as a Christmas blessing, because my eligibility to apply for citizenship was fast approaching and I had no clue where to start.  I made the call to St. James Immigrant Assistance as soon as I could.  They connected me to their legal services for support with my application and assigned a volunteer tutor to help me prepare for the citizenship test. I don’t know about you but for me, tests always make me nervous and anxious, but this time it was different. Just having someone there with me gave me all the confidence I needed for my interview. I excelled! And I became an American citizen on September 7th, 2016.

Now it is my privilege to work in the Immigrant Assistance Program myself, and to help others who are new to this country. It is very humbling to see how the staff and volunteers of St. James Immigrant Assistance are so selfless in their service to immigrants and refugees. It is your support that makes all of this possible. Thanks to them and to all of you for this amazing program. God bless you all!

Caroline Okello

 

 

 

 

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804 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, Washington  98104
Phone 206.622.3559  Fax 206.622.5303