Migrants wait to board buses that drop them off in Washington, D.C., and New York City.

Welcome and Hospitality for Migrant Families at Assisi Community House in D.C.

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A group of Franciscan-hearted people, known as the Assisi Community, in Washington, D.C., is opening their home to migrant families, according to Joseph Nangle, OFM, one of the longtime residents of the intentional community that lives a simple lifestyle and advocates for social justice.

The Assisi Community makes it clear on this lawn sign that they embrace all of humanity.

Joe says the plan is to provide an overnight stay (perhaps two nights, depending on the circumstances) to migrants who often arrive in the middle of the night from Texas, Arizona and Florida. The overnight accommodations, he explains, bridges their arrival to the following morning, when local churches, not-for-profit advocacy organizations, and government agencies open for business to assist and process the newcomers.

Known for his advocacy work with immigrants, Joe is hopeful that the D.C. Assisi Community’s new initiative will inspire friars around the country to provide welcome and hospitality to migrants in a spare room, or extra and unused space, at friaries.

“When you think about it, it’s a drop in the bucket – taking in one family for the night among the hundreds that come here. But this gesture keeps our Assisi Community grounded in what we must do to help these brothers and sisters. It’s a first step in welcoming and getting them settled into their new country. Perhaps our friaries have some room and are willing to provide Franciscan welcome and hospitality to migrants,” said Joe, noting that one of the other residents conceived the idea of turning the Assisi Community’s recently-renovated basement apartment into an overnight residence for migrants.

“We never know when the buses are going to arrive. These poor migrants have nowhere to go and end up on the streets until the next morning, or until they can meet with local church and government agency representatives,” he said.

The Assisi Community’s first house guests were a mother and her 7-year-old daughter, who were greeted by a volunteer when they stepped off the bus recently at around 3:30 in the morning, ending a six-month journey, at times treacherous, that began in their native Venezuela.

“We helped this young mother and child start off their new life on the right foot. They got a good night’s sleep, a hot shower, and a good breakfast before they were off to an appointment with a local church that was going to help them with placement for housing. They were grateful to be in a welcoming and warm home after navigating thousands of miles on foot, hitchhiking, and riding buses,” said Joe, a co-founder of the Assisi Community – which consists of vowed, secular, ordained and lay residents.