By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
Youth bearing flags from several countries processed into the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe ahead of Bishop Edward J. Burns on Aug. 7. In addition to the United States flag, six of those flags represented the countries of many of the unaccompanied migrant teen boys who were housed at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center last spring.
At the invitation of Bishop Burns, 20 of those teens and their reunification families were on hand at the cathedral that Saturday morning for a prayer service and welcoming event. Bishop Burns served as the main celebrant for the prayer service, concelebrating with Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly and Father Delfin Condori, parochial vicar at the cathedral.
In his homily, Bishop Burns said the flags represented more than just homelands, recalling the day’s Gospel which told of how the Lord will return with all His angels and sit on the throne in Heaven and all the nations will be in front of Him.
“In that final judgment, we will be judged on how we treated others,” said Bishop Burns, welcoming the migrant teens and families while assuring them that the local Church is ready to help meet their needs. “There is a Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’”
Bishop Burns recalled the first time he and his fellow priests were able to celebrate Mass for the teens while housed at the convention center, which served March through May as a temporary shelter for the boys, who were part of an unprecedented number of unaccompanied minors who arrived at the U.S. border last spring.
“It was Palm Sunday. It was the beginning of Holy Week — a week in which Jesus endured much suffering for our salvation,” said Bishop Burns, adding that he knew many of the migrant youth endured suffering on their journey to the U.S. “It was our hope that as we celebrated Easter and the resurrection of Jesus Christ with you, that you were filled with the hope and joy that only Christ can give.”
Throughout his time in the Diocese of Dallas, Bishop Burns has reminded the faithful of Catholic teachings that highlight the sanctity of human dignity and the Church’s mission to defend and protect the vulnerable. While the teens were housed at the convention center until they could be paired with sponsors or families, the diocese put the bishop’s words into action, giving the youth rosaries, prayer cards, images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and other signs and symbols that the bishop said were meant to bring about a sense of hope.
“Because God tells us that He does not abandon us nor does He leave us orphaned,” Bishop Burns said. “He is with us. The Church is called to be the perfect manifestation of Christ’s presence in the world. It is important that we be present to you — our God calls us to serve our brothers and sisters.”
Following the prayer service, the diocese held a luncheon for the migrant teens and families with diocesan ministries on hand to provide information about continuing faith formation and pastoral assistance opportunities. Catholic school representatives were available to discuss educational opportunities. Catholic Charities Dallas volunteers provided the boys with backpacks filled with school supplies and boxes of prepared food items while the Society of St. Vincent de Paul representatives offered care packages and information about services available.
“This is the Church at work,” Bishop Burns said. “This is faith in action.”