“Welcoming The Stranger” At Prince of Peace Parish In Las Vegas

Back in 2000, the USCCB published a teaching document titled “Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity.”  The Bishops began their teaching thus:

On June 2, 2000, the Jubilee Day for Migrants and Refugees, Pope John Paul II celebrated the Eucharist in St. Peter’s Square for over 50,000 migrants, refugees, people on the move, and their chaplains from all over the world. The Eucharist drew that great diversity of people into unity in the communion of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, realizing a Jubilee Year hope for the Church: “to gather into one the dispersed children of God,” “to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth” (Jn 11:52; Eph 1:10).

This Church Guy experienced the ‘unity’ that only the Eucharist can bring in a special way recently.  This is what happened.

While traveling, I found myself in Las Vegas.  I needed to get to attend the Saturday vigil as I would be traveling all day Sunday.  The only Mass I could find that fit my schedule was at Prince of Peace Parish in the Diocese of Las Vegas.  I hailed a taxi and went there.  The only problem was that I was half an hour late (always call to verify Mass times when traveling!) and the Mass was in Spanish.  The Spanish was not so bad, but I needed time to acclimate myself, and the homily was not the place to start.  I was lost and feeling out of place.

Then a woman next to me noticed.  Quietly and nicely, she pulled out Unidos en Christo/United in Christ and pointed out where we were.  She flashed a “welcome” smile and went back to worshipping.  It took only a moment, but that simple, wordless gesture united me to that liturgy and to that community in a special way.

After Mass, I ran into the woman who “welcomed the stranger” and thanked her.  I explained that if I had had time I would have acclimated myself; she said that she was the same with English.

St. Therese talked about her little flowers – her shower of roses.  I think one of them landed on me that day.


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