“What we enjoy today is their legacy and gift to us”
History shows us that there is constant m o v e m e n t among people. Whether driven by a need to improve their lives or whether forced by an unfriendly environment or by hostile forces, humans have always managed to travel to better their lot. From the earliest days, we read in the Bible that Adam and Eve had to move out of the Garden of Eden. Their son Cain was compelled to wander the earth after he killed his brother. Even Joseph and Mary had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus, and while He was still young, the family became immigrants in a strange land after fleeing to Egypt.
Many of us, in our personal histories, can acknowledge that our grandparents or great-grandparents were immigrants coming from Eastern Europe. They crossed the great Atlantic Ocean, usually under extremely poor conditions. For the most part, they were not welcomed in this strange land of a different language and customs completely unknown to them. But as they struggled, worked hard, and helped each other, they became acclimated to an entirely different way of life. What we enjoy today is their legacy and gift to us.
Presently in America, there are many opinions and issues about the questions regarding immigration. The Archeparchy
of Pittsburgh, as well as the other eparchies of Passaic, Parma and Phoenix, are well-acquainted with the intricacies of what the United States government requires for legal admission from another country, since now all have priests serving here from Eastern Europe.
In Pittsburgh, Archbishop William Skurla has sponsored nine priests. Eight are from our Eparchy of Mukachevo in
the Transcarpathian region of Ukraine, and one is from the Archeparchy of Presov in Slovakia. They serve 17 parishes. Eight are married, and among them they have 15 children. Three of the children were born here and thus are American citizens.
Unlike our forbearers, they came better prepared and we welcomed them. The long, expensive and somewhat complicated government process was followed in order for them to arrive here. This continues as regular applications for renewal of their status must be approved until after a number of years they become eligible for
Just as with everything else, travel to another place or country has changed. Jesus and the other early movers were not concerned about borders, customs, passports and the like. Our ancestors came with passports but they had to undergo inspection at the port of entry. For our priests and their families coming today, there can be complicated air travel, permissions, documents, inspections, and someone needed at the airport to meet them with car seats for the children. This is America!