Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

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Guest Post from Father John
President and CEO
Catholic Charities
Want a fresh perspective on what the Fourth of July means? Sit down and have a meal with a refugee.

Two weeks ago, I shared a meal with clients and staff of our Refugee Program, which works with refugees and asylees who fled their home country. It was one of those stark reminders to me of just how blessed I’ve been in my life.

One man shared a truly heart wrenching story with me. Rebels in his home country murdered his parents and siblings and threatened him unless he joined their cause. He and his family fled here, knowing nothing about the United States other than it would be safe. Catholic Charities helped him find a job, learn the culture and find a house for him, his wife and their two children. Today, he smiles again. I know he feels the pain of loss, but he also knows the soothing calm of hope in a better tomorrow.

Americans are often quick to say that we “take for granted” our freedoms.  And I think that’s a good thing – because our freedoms are granted to us. Our country was one of the first to recognize the inalienable rights given by God to each of us.

Still, many families in our community don’t have freedom. The freedom to chase dreams and provide a better future for their children is revoked by disability, poverty or illness.

Catholic Charities is our response, as a community, to these needs. Catholic Charities represents another great freedom of America – the freedom to serve. We serve, because it is one way we outwardly profess our faith, protected as the first part of our first freedom under the Bill of Rights.

To love our neighbors as ourselves, thousands of volunteers and donors join more than 800 staff members to give people the freedom to work, the freedom to live in their own home and, yes, the freedom to celebrate the founding of our great country on this blessed day.