By Renée K. Gadoua | Contributing writer

Franciscan Friar Rick Riccioli and Father Gerry Waterman led more than 250 people in the Prayer of St. Francis today in front of the Franciscan Church of the Assumption on Syracuse’s North Side. “Everyone here is always welcome here,” Friar Riccioli said.

Assumption was one of four sites where a diverse, interfaith group made a prayerful procession in solidarity with refugees. Two Iraqi refugees led the procession, which lasted about 90 minutes amid intermittent light rain.

The event was hosted by Catholic Charities and InterFaith Works, two Syracuse agencies that resettle refugees. It was intended to reflect friendship and support to refugees, who have been seen as targets of President Trump’s rhetoric and policies.

Assumption originally served German immigrants who lived in the neighborhood. Syracuse’s North Side today is home to numerous ethnic groups, including recently resettled refugees from Iraq, Syria, Congo, Somalia, Myannmar, and Nepal.

“It’s very diverse,”  Friar Riccioli said. “Refugees are not a liability. It’s a great gift. It’s our moral duty to welcome them.”

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