By Serving the Poor, of Course!
On Friday, January 8th, the Church celebrated the Epiphany of the Lord and Frà Nicola Tegoni celebrated his birthday! In honor of the Epiphany, or Feast of the Three Kings, Frà Nicola joined Order of Malta members from the Connecticut – SWN and New York City Areas who opened their hearts and minds and treated more than 200 migrants and refugees to a Feast of the Three Kings celebration at St. Francis of Assisi parish on West 31st Street in Manhattan.
Knights and Dames participated in the Epiphany Mass at St. Francis as readers in the Spanish liturgy and gift bearers during the offertory procession. Everyone gathered afterward for a warm welcome and party, where members, including the birthday boy, Frà Nicola, served a delicious meal to all of the refugees and decorated King crowns with the children.
The celebration ended when all of the refugees celebrated Frà Nicola by singing happy birthday in Spanish to him, complete with birthday hugs for Frà Nicola from the children who certainly found hope in his compassion for them. You can click here to watch a video of this sweet moment.
Members from Connecticut Area transported more than 150 new winter coats generously donated by Catholic Charities of Fairfield County as part of the outreach of this event. The coats were handed out to the refugees later in the week.
Fr. Joe Cavoto, OFM, ChM has been in regular contact with members of the Order, updating them on the plight of the displaced people fleeing persecution, terror and war in their own country, and being bused to New York City after they arrive in the United States. Many of the people who are arriving are families with very young children. The St. Francis of Assisi breadline has increased in numbers exponentially and the demographic has transitioned from adult individuals to whole families of refugees with babies and young children.
St. Francis has also created a Day-Time Drop-In Center and Migrant Relief Center that provides warm clothing, shoes and essential basic needs like toiletries twice a week for the refugees and others along with their breadline that provides food seven days a week. Record numbers of Refugees are arriving in the city at an alarming rate each week approximately 35,000 have arrived since the summer and often are without warm clothes and are directed to St Francis of Assisi parish for help.
As the Three Kings welcomed and celebrated a poor, homeless, refugee family in Bethlehem so do we honor the Wise Men’s humility and compassion by seeing the faces of The Holy Family in the faces of the families we serve at St. Francis of Assisi. Our smallest gesture of hospitality and kindness can change a life.
If you or your local Area would like to learn more about the efforts to help migrants and refugees at St. Francis of Assisi parish please click here to send an email to Fr. Joe Cavoto, OFM, ChM.