DALLAS -- In an afternoon prayer service in the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Bishop Edward J. Burns prayed for compassion and understanding for immigrants and refugees.
"What's important is that we welcome them, as Christ asks us to welcome the stranger, as we would welcome Christ himself," said Burns.
It's part of a campaign to support immigrants, called "Sharing the Journey." Pope Francis announced the two-year campaign would begin Wednesday, and Catholics around the world, including in the Dallas Diocese, are following suit.
The initiative is meant to foster relationships and build a greater understanding of those who have immigrated to the United States and the reasons they left their homeland, which could include fleeing poverty, war, violence, or oppression, said Burns.
"It's important for us to approach people not necessarily identifying whether or not they have documents, but we approach them and we identify whether or not they're our brother or our sister," said Burns.
The Dallas Diocese is encouraging Catholic churches, schools and organizations to get to know immigrant families, whether sharing prayers, engaging on social media, or hosting dinners or potlucks.
"There's a lot of rhetoric going on in our society right now that can cause for a lot of inner turmoil, and a lot of our families are experiencing that," said Burns.
Shortly after Burns was installed as bishop of the Dallas Diocese earlier this year, he began an immigration task force to explore how the Catholic church could better serve the immigrant community. There are "know your rights" seminars, and representatives have met with local law enforcement agencies to help improve relations with the immigrant community.
But ultimately, the church is asking each of us to take a journey of our own, from a place of fear to one of understanding.
And that's why Sarah Al-Rubaye was asked to share her story.
"You can say I am a war survivor," said Al-Rubaye, a refugee forced to flee violence in Iraq after her first son was killed.
"I saw my dream killed in front of me, so I will never let anything kill my other dreams," said Al-Rubaye.
Now, she's making sure her two younger sons have a safe place to grow up. Catholic Charities helped her find a home in Dallas, where she works with other refugees to help them do the same.
Victor Quezada's family came here for a better life, too.
"We faced a hard poverty level in Mexico," said Quezada. "My parents barely had enough food to keep up alive."
Quezada's family came to the United States without documents when he was nine years old. He grew up in Plano, went to Collin College, has a steady security job, and volunteers. But, as a DACA recipient, his future is in limbo.
"You have to sit and wait for something good to happen because if it doesn't, you're in fear of being deported," said Quezada.
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