January Challenge: Welcome the Stranger

What: Welcoming the Stranger

Why: This month we reflect on the Holy Family's flight into Egypt. We can imagine what it would have been like to be a stranger in a new land seeking refuge. There are tens of millions of displaced people worldwide, possibly including your neighbors, fellow parishioners, a co-worker, or complete strangers. They may need a welcoming smile, someone to help them get familiar with their new surroundings, financial assistance, employment, or just someone to help them cope with challenges faced when in a new or foreign land.

Jesus reiterates the Old Testament command to love and care for the stranger, a criterion by which we shall be judged: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me" (Mt 25:35). - USCCB Catholic Social Teaching on Immigration

Even if your neighbors are not refugees or newly arrived immigrants they may still be strangers to you. Following lockdowns and social distancing during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us changed our habits and have never gotten to know the people who may be new on our block, in our parish, or even a colleague because of remote working.

Take the time this month to welcome someone new to your neighborhood, parish, workplace, or any other place you frequent.


Pick your CHALLENGE:

Welcoming refugees and newly arrived immigrants

  • Learn about the Catholic Accompaniment and Reflection Experience (CARE) Program, through the USCCB’s Office of Migration and Refugee Services
    • To learn more about getting involved with this program through Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota contact Isaac Landsteiner [email protected]
  • Connect with your local Catholic Charities to see what you can do to help newly arriving individuals and families

  • Often material goods are needed for newly arriving families and individuals. You could donate:
    • Bedding
    • Winter clothing
    • Cooking utensils
    • Furniture

  • Do you speak a second language? You could offer your skills as an interpreter.
  • Make handmade welcome cards
  • Pray this Rosary for vulnerable migrant populations

Getting to know your neighbors

  • Host an open house or game night and invite those who live on your block especially anyone you know to be new to the neighborhood.
  • Bake and deliver a treat and hot cocoa to any new neighbors as a way to introduce yourself and welcome them to the neighborhood.
    • You can also do this if you are new to the neighborhood.

  • Offer your assistance to neighbors you've not met. 
    • Shovel or snow blow 
    • Scrape snow and ice from their car
    • Walk their dog
    • Pick up groceries
    • Cook a meal

  • Invite your neighbors to Mass or another activity at your parish. Offer to give them a ride, if needed.
  • Become an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion so as to bring the Eucharist to the homebound in your community who you would not otherwise get to know.

Welcoming new members to your parish

  • Does your parish have a hospitality committee? Ask how you can assist them.
  • Host a get-together for new members and anyone who wants to get to know more people at the parish.
  • Invite someone you don't know to join you for donuts and coffee.
  • Invite someone you don't know to join you for a parish small-group or other activity.

Set your GOAL: 

Depending on your challenge, you will want to set yourself a goal - whether it be material, financial, or spiritual. Some examples include:

  • Join your parish hospitality committee
  • Collect enough funds and/or goods to cover the material needs of a new immigrant or refugee family
  • Bake two dozen cookies and take them to two neighbors
  • Invite 3 people you've not met at your parish to join you for a parish activity
  • Or set your own! 

Determine your AUDIENCE:

Who do you want to join you in your monthly challenge? 

  • Just yourself! 
  • Your family and friends
  • Your parish
  • Your social media friends
  • Or whomever you want! 


Once you know what you are going to do, click "Share" to tell us your idea! We encourage you to upload a picture of how you're building a civilization of love to help inspire others to take action too!

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