Journeying Toward a Just Peace for Migrants and Refugees

Recognizing how often the people of God found themselves strangers in a foreign land, from Abraham and Jacob to the Holy Family and missionaries through the ages, the plight of migrants and refugees has long been a concern of the Church.  To raise awareness and celebrate the gifts that people from other lands have to offer, the Church in the United States lifts up for us National Migration Week, which this year is observed from January 7-13.

Here locally, where we are rich in multicultural diversity, the archdiocese’s Office of Cultural Diversity and Outreach is encouraging people this week to show solidarity with migrants and refugees through prayer, sharing personal stories and speaking out on their behalf.

This annual initiative comes this year as our nation considers much-needed immigration reform amidst what is actually a world-wide migration crisis. As Pope Francis notes in his Message for the 2018 World Day of Peace, over 250 million women, men and children are on the move, 22.5 million of whom are refugees.  Stressing our common humanity as sons and daughters of God, he says, “In a spirit of compassion, let us embrace all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands.”

Instead of viewing migration as a threat to national resources, the Holy Father encourages a welcoming response as part of the effort to build a just peace and better world. “Migrants and refugees,” he says, “do not arrive empty-handed. They bring their courage, skills, energy and aspirations, as well as the treasures of their own cultures; and in this way, they enrich the lives of the nations that receive them.”

As I wrote in my recent pastoral letter, The Challenge of Racism Today, “we are called to be witnesses to the unity of God’s family and therefore, to be a living testimony to the inclusiveness that is a graced sign of our oneness.”  The story of the world’s migrants and refugees is not that of strangers, it is the story of our sisters and brothers in the one human family seeking a safer future and better life.

The journey of migrants and refugees is actually a shared journey, as the Church accompanies them on the way with our prayers, our understanding and empathy, and the support we provide to these people in need.  To learn more, please visit adw.org/encounter and sharejourney.org.

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