When we die and stand before the Pearly Gates, St. Peter is not going to ask to see our papers. Instead, as people of faith we are called to see Christ in every one we meet and, as our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper, we lovingly meet their needs. How we loved our neighbors will be the question St. Peter asks.

The Gospel of Life demands that we love our neighbor as ourselves; love does no wrong to a neighbor.

“In our service of charity, we must be inspired and distinguished by a specific attitude: we must care for the other as a person for whom God has made us responsible. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to become neighbors to everyone (cf. Lk 10:29-37), and to show special favor to those who are poorest, most alone and most in need. In helping the hungry, the thirsty, the foreigner, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned-as well as the child in the womb and the old person who is suffering or near death-we have the opportunity to serve Jesus” (St. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 87).

November 13 is the Feast Day of St. Frances Cabrini, patron saint of immigrants. She is a great example of applying “love of neighbor” to our concrete experience: “I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus to those who do not know Him or have forgotten Him.” She left her native Italy to serve immigrants in America because she understood immigrants are not other, they are us. Unless you’re 100% Native American, your ancestors were immigrants. Immigrants are people created in the image and likeness of God. That alone makes them special.

As gifts of God, every person is accorded human dignity. We believe in the dignity of the human person. No individual is more equal than another.

Society as a whole must respect, defend and promote the dignity of every human person, at every moment and in every condition of that person's life” (EV, 81).

Quick, when you hear the word “immigrant,” what image comes to mind? A person of color? That hasn’t always been the case. St. Frances Cabrini was sent to the United States to care for the Italian immigrants. After the Italians came the Irish immigrants, then Eastern European immigrants, later Vietnamese, and finally Latinos and Africans. Each and every one of them a person in search of a better life.

As people of faith we believe that our world is a better place when life is respected and families are strong. Life is respected and families are stronger when families can survive and support themselves. When people cannot find employment in their country of origin to survive and provide support, they have a right to find work elsewhere in search of a better life.

As we accompany today’s immigrants, we would do well to ask ourselves “what am I doing to communicate the love of Jesus to the immigrants I live with?”

Cato is director of the Archdiocese of Portland’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace. Fr. Libra is the archdiocese’s pro-life director and pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Portland.