Miami, Feb 10 (efe-epa).- Miami Archbishop Thomas Wensky on Wednesday blessed the “Angels Unawares” sculpture dedicated to immigration, which will remain in a city park until April 8 to inspire compassion and awareness about the needs of migrants and refugees.
The story of humanity is the story of immigration and also of this city, said Wensky at the ceremony held in Bayfront Park to welcome the monumental sculpture, the work of Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz, which is on tour through various US cities.
From Miami, the work will travel to St. Paul, Minnesota.
The traveling sculpture is a replica in bronze of one unveiled at The Vatican in 2019 by Pope Francis. It weighs four tons and measures 20 feet long, and it will stand in Miami’s downtown Bayfront Park.
“Angels Unawares” depicts a boat loaded with lifesize migrants, an image that is not unusual for residents of South Florida, the archbishop said, referring to Cuban rafters who set out in often frail and overcrowded boats and rafts trying to get to the US shore.
Among the bronze figures on board the boat, repesenting migrants from all epochs and homelands, including Jesus, Joseph and Mary, a pair of wings are visible indicating the presence of the “sacred” within the group of migrants, according to Wensky.
The archbishop said that the people who view the work will remember their parents or grandparents who came to the US seeking a better life or the trip that they themselves undertook to come to this country.
He called upon people to think about all those who left their homelands for different reasons and to feel “more compassion” for them.
“They are our friends, our brothers and sisters,” said the archbishop, who noted that the name of the sculpture is taken from Hebrews 13:2 in the Bible, which reads “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Wensky paid tribute to the contribution immigrants have made to the US and reviewed the essential roles and activities that they undertake and perform.
Randolph McGrorty – who for the past 30 years has been the director of Catholic Legal Services, which provides free legal advice on immigration matters and is dealing with about 1,000 cases per month at its four centers in South Florida – also spoke at the ceremony.
McGrorty, in later remarks to EFE, emphasized that 55 percent of Miami residents were born abroad and it is necessary to acknowledge the contribution of immigrants.
“They are not foreigners or angels. They are our neighbors,” he emphasized.
When asked by EFE about the changes in immigration policy that are in the offing with the arrival in the White House of Democratic President Joe Biden, McGrorthy said that he was “hopeful, patient and ready for what comes.”
He praised the change of “tone” and “attitude” from that of the previous Donald Trump administration, which, he said, focused on “attacking human beings for wanting to live better” and for “dismantling the immigration laws,” a task that he said one must acknowledge was performed “brilliantly.”
Therefore, he urged people to be patient because “it’s going to take time” to rebuild the structure of laws and protections for migrants.