On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (December 8), Catholic Charities staff gathered for Mass and a blessing of a conference room given a new name in honor of Mary, “Our Lady of Guadalupe Conference Room.”

Afterwards, a group of staff visited each of the departments around the Catholic Charities headquarters to share the Posada experience, or Las Posadas Navideñas (The Christmas Inns) – a nine day religious observance meant to honor Mary and Joseph’s quest for shelter.Every night from Dec. 16-24 during Advent, neighbors gather to recreate the Holy Family’s experience. They sing, pray and celebrate the coming anniversary of the Savior’s birth.

As staff visited each department, the department would say, “Please enter blessed migrants.  Our home is your home. Although it is a simple dwelling…it holds love from all our souls.”

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke tell us that Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem on the eve of Jesus’ birth. When they were unable to find a place to sleep for the night, a kind innkeeper allowed the family to stay in his stable.

Immigrants, in search of refuge, much like the Holy Family, brought this 400 year old Latin American tradition to their new countries. We learn from the Posadas that by welcoming the poor and needy, we are welcoming Jesus in our midst (Matthew 25:40).