September 16, 2022
Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., has issued the following statement in response to the unexpected arrival of migrants on Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday, September 14:
“In the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus makes quite clear how we are to care for strangers: ‘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).
“This mandate was clearly evident in the inspiring response of the Martha’s Vineyard community as a whole to the plight of some 50 migrants mostly from Venezuela who were literally left stranded on their island on Wednesday. Shelter, food, and basic needs assistance were quickly provided in accord with the dignity due all migrants, who are -first and foremost- our sisters and brothers in the human family regardless of birthplace or legal status.
“Here in the Diocese of Fall River, which encompasses Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, we must do all we can to ensure a humanitarian response to this crisis. Now that the state has relocated the migrants from the island to a military base on the Cape mainland, bilingual staff from Catholic Charities-Diocese of Fall River (Catholic Social Services) is there to welcome them in their native language and to assist officials in assessing their needs, immediate and long term. The agency has committed its resources to address these needs working alongside the state and other relief agencies. Pastoral outreach including Mass and the sacraments will be made available from our parishes in the region, and parishes may also be called upon for other support depending on needs that become evident. I know that one of our churches on the Vineyard is ready with additional shelter space should the need arise.
“These newcomers to our area have endured a difficult journey and the challenges they face are many. Our welcome to them must be marked by respect and compassion and be coupled with our prayers for them in the weeks and months ahead.”