A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Moving In

Posted on: July 24, 2014

Sitting in my home office today, I can hear all kinds of vehicles pass by—cars, emergency vehicles, buses, delivery trucks and, undoubtedly, moving vans.

Ah, moving—one of the joys of summer.

Of course I’m joking. I’ve always struggled with change, and probably one big reason is the cross-country moves my family made from Nova Scotia to Ontario to British Columbia and back to Ontario when I was young. As a shy child, I hated having to move to a new house, start at a new school, and make new friends.

Many houses will change hands over the next few weeks as families try to settle in before the school year begins. But that’s easier said than done, especially for those moving from out of town, out of province, or even outside the country.

Even if language isn’t a barrier, the mere fact of being a newcomer can be. In some places I’ve lived, people could spend twenty years there and still be newcomers, particularly if they didn’t have relatives living nearby.

In the spirit of loving our neighbour, how can we help newcomers feel less isolated? Here are a few thoughts:

  • Say hello when they’re moving in, putting out recycling or doing yard work. Just seeing a few familiar faces around the neighbourhood can help.
  • Encourage children and youth to be friendly to new students on their bus or in their class. I remember elementary-school classes where I was made to feel unwelcome because I was new; as a teenager at a new high school, being invited to sit with other students for lunch helped on a difficult first day.
  • Remember newcomers in our own intentions and in the prayers of the faithful at Mass.
  • Hold a parish “welcome back” coffee hour in September so newcomers have the chance to meet some parishioners.
  • Run a church “job fair” in the fall so new people can find out what ministries are carried out and where help is needed. It can be daunting to volunteer, especially for those who have been in parishes where “this is the way it’s always been done, and these are the people who have always done it.”

As new families move in during the summer, I pray that we would keep in mind Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:35*: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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