National Migration Week
January 8-14, 2017 ~ Creating a Culture of Encounter
For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking.
The theme for National Migration Week 2017 draws attention to Pope Francis' call to create a culture of encounter, and in doing so to look beyond our own needs and wants to those of others around us. In the homily given at his first Pentecost as pope, he emphasized the importance of encounter in the Christian faith: "For me this word is very important. Encounter with others. Why? Because faith is an encounter with Jesus, and we must do what Jesus does: encounter others."
With respect to migrants, too often in our contemporary culture we fail to encounter them as persons, and instead look at them as others. We do not take the time to engage migrants in a meaningful way, but remain aloof to their presence and suspicious of their intentions. During this National Migration Week, let us all take the opportunity to engage migrants as children of God who are worthy of our attention and support.
“Immigrants & Refugees Welcome”
These are the words emblazoned on the banners hung on our churches this weekend, a sign that we as a parish welcome the stranger—immigrants, refugees, migrants and survivors of human trafficking—and recognize the contribution they make in our society.
This year it is especially important as our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. . . 65 million displaced at the end of 2015, up from 59 million the previous year. Our banners, however, remind us that this struggle is not just a product of recent years but goes back centuries to when Mary and Joseph were forced to flee their home, to make their way to another country in order to protect their newborn son.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus answers the question: “who is my neighbor?” It was the one who took a risk and became actively involved in helping a victim he did not know. This is what we are called to do today.
In the words of Pope Francis, “As we fix our gaze on the Holy Family as they were forced to become refugees, let us think of the tragedy of those migrants today who are victims of rejection and exploitation…and give voice to those who cannot manage to make their cry of distress and oppression heard.”
“Who is your brother?” asks the Lord. This is not a question directed to others; it is a question directed to you, to me, to each of us. We welcome immigrants and refugees to become our brothers and sisters, to be a part of our lives.
National Migration Week Resources
Engagement with lawmakers is a vital part of effective advocacy. This link provides an easy way to contact your Senator or Representative during National Migration Week 2017 in support of immigrants and refugees.
Justice for Immigrants Website
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's main resource for understanding the U.S. Catholic Church’s commitment to immigration reform and to creating a culture of welcome in which all migrants are treated with respect and dignity.
Justice for Immigrants Mailing List
Join the Justice for Immigrants mailing list to keep on the latest news and events.