NORTH PLATTE, Neb. The Diocese of Grand Island 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.
It's part of Pope Francis two-year campaign to support immigrants, called "Sharing the Journey."
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.
"To share the journey means to meet them, to encounter them, and to listen to them, is the first step in the journey," said Bishop Joseph Hanefeldt. "The more we can say, "tell me your story, then we can put a face to immigration, to refugees and stories we hear on the news."
On Wednesday, Bishop Hanefeldt, Father Jorge Canela, and Father Matt Koperski of Saint Ann's Catholic Church toured the Tyson plant to meet with staff and employees.
"Lexington is such a unique place in all of Nebraska and I wanted to come here to be close as I could be to immigrants; people who have come here seeking a better life in our country," said Bishop Joseph Hanefeldt."
They also met with students and staff at Lexington High School.
"We have needed to do a share the journey experience decades ago, because this packing plant has brought people together who are all on a journey with the local people who have lived here and been invited into the journey," Hanefeldt said. "Amazing things have happened in this high school to unite people."
Perhaps, the most important life lesson Hanefeldt has learned, is that love is a universal language.
"When you can relate to people to person to person, it moves hearts," he says. "And that's what we all have to do, is start relating to people that maybe we are not comfortable with or we can't communicate with because love is a universal language."