When I was a reporter in the mid-1980s, I was assigned to do a story about a group of about 10 migrants from Poland who had arrived in my town, Mount Carmel, under the auspices of the Diocese of Harrisburg’s Catholic Charities. A few weeks later, I somehow found myself teaching English to my new neighbors.
In the course of the next year or so, I gained an appreciation of why my friends had left their homeland to try to find a better life in America and what they had to endure to do that. One young man who left had returned to Poland after a deep loneliness that left him drinking liquor under a bridge late into bitterly cold nights.
However, most of the stories had much happier endings. The migrants found work and many of them married. Years later, as a teacher at the local high school, I had several of their children as students. One is a doctor and two others are doing well, working on graduate degrees while employed in their respective fields.
The sacrifices made by their parents in leaving their homeland in order to build a better life for themselves and their descendants reminded me of what it must have been like for my two sets of paternal grandparents to leave the Russian sector of Poland in the late 1800s to migrate to America for the same reasons.
It also reminded me that my immigrant grandparents brought with them faith and love along with hope. They were people with a deep faith in God. The churches they built stood and still stand as testimony to that faith that they passed on to their children.
Their love is evident in the sacrifices they made for their family out of the love they had for God.
Starting a new life in a new country is a leap of faith. But if that endeavor is grounded in a faith in God and sacrifices made for love, it is a leap that is attainable.
God is with us wherever we go.