Local churches welcome refugees 

  • The First Congregational Church of Leverett Dec. 27, 2016. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Our Lady of Peace in Turners Falls is seen with a banner welcoming refugees. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • The First Congregational Church of Leverett Dec. 27, 2016. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Our Lady of Peace in Turners Falls with banner welcoming refugees Dec. 27, 2016. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 1/2/2017 9:53:35 PM

TURNERS FALLS — When the Rev. Stanley Aksamit heard from several nuns that there were concerns in Montague’s immigrant community, he knew something had to be done.

Specifically, they felt recent political rhetoric surrounding immigrants and refugees by the Trump campaign had made them feel isolated and scared.

Aksamit said the nuns, who had been doing outreach with those communities, told him that children were living in fear that their parents were going to be deported.

He decided something had to be done and ordered a banner that now stands out in front of the church. “Immigrants and Refugees Welcome,” it reads, alongside a picture of Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus.

He said immigrants have become a close-knit part of the church communities. The church has partnered with Our Lady of Czestochowa, which holds a weekly Mass in Spanish. First Congregational Church of Leverett has an identical banner.

Aksamit said he wanted to quell concerns in the community, and that the message fits nicely with the story of Jesus’ birth.

“When King Herod wanted to kill the newborn, they fled into Egypt, and therefore they were a refugee family,” he said.

He said there has been a lot of positive responses from the parish, and that many long-time members have worked to help welcome immigrant communities.

“It’s basically a call to be compassionate,” he said.

Aksamit said he delivered a homily about what the community should do in light of the election of Donald Trump. He said Pope Francis has also highlighted the plight of refugees around the country.

“Our job is basically the same. That is, as Christians, we reach out and support the vulnerable,” he said.

Aksamit said he has been involved in several cases where a parent is arrested on immigration charges, and he said it can be devastating to the families.

“They’re not a statistic, they’re not a category. They’re real flesh and blood human beings,” he said. “And anybody with an ounce of compassion will not hide behind the law.”

Reach Miranda Davis
at 413-772-0261, ext. 280
or mdavis@recorder.com.




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