MiSSiON WORK

In almost every city and town in America ordinary examples of the works of mercy are visible today. They have become traditional. Many of the missions American Catholics and Orthodox assign to churches and church institutions are part of what they inherited from eastern and western Europe, Africa, South America, and Canada. Their many welcoming practices and festive celebrations were and are ways of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and welcoming the strangers from foreign lands.

When Germans and Italians arrived in America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they discovered Catholic churches founded by their predecessors that made them feel at home. Celebrations of the Feast of Saint Anthony in the North End of Boston, on Mott Street in New York City, and on the streets of Cassino, Italy, have remarkable similarities that bring warmth and comfort to the hearts of Italian Catholics.

The blessing of the Portuguese fishing fleet would be as familiar to the people of Gloucester, Massachusetts, and Newport Beach, California, as to those of Lisbon or Oporto in Portugal. The Portuguese celebration of the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament in August 2005 drew more than 300,000 visitors to New Bedford, Massachusetts.

French Canadians who poured into New England in the latter part of the 19th century brought with them their language

and celebrations. A New England Catholic of French Canadian background would feel quite at home at the Church of Notre Dame in Montreal, at the shrine of Saint Anne de Beaupré just outside Quebec, or in a small town church in the rural villages of northern Maine or Vermont.

Many Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches hold annual national conferences in different regions of the United States to teach their faithful their spiritual traditions, to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, and to cherish their ethnic heritage.

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