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Immigrant Children Crowned Kings for the Day

Posted on January 9, 2017 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Catholic Charities Celebrates Feast of the Three Kings Day in the Bronx


View photos on of the Three Kings event on our Facebook Page

Dressed in costumes so large their little jeans and sweaters peaked out, youngsters, all new arrivals or children of recent immigrants, acted as kings and wise men this weekend as they reenacted the Feast of the Three Kings.  Together they commemorated the story that spread through all nations and languages at St. Jerome’s Church in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, a bastion of beauty in this impoverished neighborhood. 

Three Kings Day, or El Día de los Reyes, also known as the Feast of the Epiphany, commemorates when the three wise men arrived with gifts to welcome the baby Jesus.  For those present, as for most children from Spanish-speaking nations, the day is as important as Christmas.

Their performance marked a special part of a special day, the Three Kings Day celebration organized by Catholic Charities Bronx Day Laborers Initiative.  The children’s parents, nearly all day laborers, are more accustomed to waiting on frigid street corners for work rather than being feasted and entertained. 

But on January 7th, Catholic Charities helped organize the pageant along with a presentation just for them by the Ecuadorian Dance Group and a feast of chicken, rice and beans, salads and more. 

To kick off festivities, new arrivals filled the pews in St. Jerome’s Church as Fr. Eric Cruz said mass on an ivory alter festooned with red and white poinsettias between engraved wooden doors decorated with wreaths. Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan joined in the celebration, cementing memories for children and their families with gifts of donated toys, warm coats, sweaters and more.

This weekend’s event marked the first annual Three Kings Day Celebration at St. Jerome Church for the Bronx day laborers we serve.

The sad reality is immigrants, particularly day laborers, are common targets for exploitation.  Employers,landlords, “notarios” and attorneys often prey on their fears.   Catholic Charities’ qualified staff works to prevent this exploitation.  We provide honest information in multiple languages and solid legal advice.  We also operate the New York State New Americans Hotline.

The Three Kings Day Celebration is part of Catholic Charities’ ongoing service for new immigrants working in construction.  The St. Jerome HANDS Program and our Bronx Day Laborers Initiative provides job referrals, education on workers about employment to prevent their exploitation and local resources to assist workers into integrating into their new homeland. 

Call us at 212-419-3737 or toll-free in New York State at 1-800-566-7636 for help.