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Br. Steve Herro's Blog


Br. Steve HerroBr. Steve Herro, O. Praem., professed solemn vows to the Community of St. Norbert Abbey in 1991. He has served in Catholic social action ministry for St. Norbert Abbey, the Diocese of Green Bay, Catholic Charities USA, and St. Norbert College.

DISCLAIMER: This blog represents Br. Herro's own opinions and experiences. It does not represent an official position or opinion of St. Norbert Abbey or of any individual Norbertine.

December 1, 2015
Entry #46: "About the Second Coming of Jesus, Syrian Refugees, and a Papal Rock Star"

by Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem.

The Scriptures of the end of the liturgical year and beginning of Advent remind us to be vigilant at the time of the second coming of Christ. And the Gospel of Matthew does not mince words on the last Sunday of the year, the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Year A (Matthew 25:31-46):

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them from one another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was...a stranger and you welcomed me...’”

In an era of division and polarization, public opinion on resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees seems to have divided the country like the heights of the immigration debate 10 years ago and the in-house fighting in Wisconsin in 2011 over Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget.

I am the grandson of Lebanese immigrants. My dad’s parents fled a section of Syria (which is now Lebanon) as teens shortly before 1920. They met in an Arab ghetto in Milwaukee, married, and the rest is history. I have limited memories of my grandfather (“Gidu” in Arabic) but shared 20 years of life with my grandmother (“Situ” in Arabic). Gidu and Situ never returned for a visit to the “old country”; Situ hardly learned English her entire life.

As my family and I have discussed their resettlement over the family e-mail list, I answer the claim, “Let them come legally like Gidu and Situ did” by reminding my own flesh and blood that unless migrants were Chinese, there were few if any U.S. restrictions on internationals until the mid 1920s. If Gidu and Situ could get out of Syria and arrive at Ellis Island, they were basically counted and registered by U.S. officials and allowed to settle wherever they wanted in the United States.

For a Congress that has failed to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill since Senators Kennedy and McCain drafted their first bill in 2005, I am amazed that the House of Representatives could introduce and approve H.R. 4038, American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015, in two days.

On the other hand, I could not be more proud of the U.S. Catholic Bishops and Wisconsin Catholic Bishops for their strong statements in support of a peaceful resolution of the war vs. ISIS and the opening of our borders to refugees from Syria and Iraq.

For a country that went gaga over Pope Francis during his September visit to our shores, have we forgotten his prophetic words to the U.S. Congress and the world?

“Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.”


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