||Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed|
Strangers in Strange Lands
By: Dale Recinella
The Bible is filled with revelational instructions from God to man.
Among the most persistent of these is the command to care for the alien in our midst. I have a new perspective on those words now that I and
my family have lived abroad. Suddenly, we were the alien. My wife, my children and I were the immigrants.
Our homeland, the United States, doesn’t have a monopoly on hostility toward aliens. Europe is hostile, too. France is working to expel Africans.
Germany is tightening down on Turks. And when we lived in Italy, the unemployment rate was high, more than twice the rate in the U.S. Italy was
clamping down on educated “foreigners” like me. Aliens and foreigners are persona non grata in the developed world.
Every year over 100,000,000 people attempt to change residency across international borders. Almost none of them have the blessing of a host
community like the one we moved into in Rome. But even with all this help and support, we were amazed at how difficult it is to be the stranger,
the foreigner who doesn’t speak the language, the immigrant who can’t find the stores, the unwelcome pariah who is threatening to take a precious
domestic job and to consume scarce local resources for his family.
Each morning in Rome I found myself staring at the doors of a jammed commuter bus. There was no room for me and my children. We couldn’t
understand the Italian spoken by the people blocking our way. They couldn’t understand our English. But if we were going to get to school or to
find work, we must force our way onto that bus.
And I wonder: Is this unfriendly bus what my country looks like to the aliens from Mexico and Central America, from Haiti, from Africa?
As they work their way into America, do they have the same feeling in their gut that I did as I shoved into that bus muttering, “Permisso…scusi!”
Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that when God initiated his people, he called Abraham to become an immigrant, to move to a strange and foreign land.
What better way to burn into the collective memory of the People of God the imperative, “take care of the aliens!”
4000 years later, we who claim to be children of Abraham through faith, must evaluate our choices and our actions in light of that imperative.
Do we have the courage to step aside, to make room, to welcome the stranger in our midst? Is there a place for the alien in our bus? In our country?
In our home? In our heart?
First published: The Talahasse Democrat, November 1996
© 2008 Dale S. Recinella & The Talahasse Democrat.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission.
I Was In Prison
News & Updates
This ezine is targeted for people involved in prison ministry or in stopping the death penalty, we think you will find helpful information for people who are undecided about capital punishment, for those who have never experienced the inside of a jail or prison, and for those who feel called to participate through prayer and adoration.
Your name and information will never be used or shared with anyone. We promise!
Dale S. Recinella
, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella
, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed