Encountering our Migrants and Refugees this National Migration Week

Come and Learn, Come and Listen, Come and Ask Questions, Come and Offer Compassion
By Trevor Thompson, Director of Justice and Peace

For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated and promoted National Migration Week in January, 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. Catholics are called to stand with new American immigrants as our brothers and sisters. This is who we are. This is what we do. The theme for National Migration Week 2018, January 8 – January 14, 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 and refugees, 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 these people 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. We are providing three amazing opportunities during the week for hearing stories of refugees and migrants. Please come to one or more event. Bring your listening heart and your questions so that you might have a better understanding of the pain and promise within the lives of these individuals.

We will rely on the partnership of several organizations from the community to coordinate these events: Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh, US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Umstead Park UCC, and Neighbor to Neighbor in Raleigh. For more information about National Migration Week from our US Catholic Bishops, go to their website. Also, the US Catholic Bishops have a long-standing commitment to issues of immigration and the need for reform. The website Justice for Immigrants provides ample resources for learning more about this and ways to take action.

For more information about these events and other opportunities to reflect on social issues in light of our Catholic Social Tradition, contact Trevor Thompson, Director of Justice Peace, trevor.thompson@stfrancisraleigh.org, 919-847-8205x270

Please pray for all immigrants and refugees:

MERCIFUL AND
LOVING FATHER,
We beseech you, open our hearts
so that we may provide hospitality and refuge
to migrants who are lonely, afraid,
and far from their homes.
Give us the courage to welcome every stranger
as Christ in our midst,
to invite them into our communities
as a demonstration of Christ’s love for us.
We pray that when we encounter the other,
we see in her the face of your Son,
when we meet a stranger,
that we take his hand in welcome.
Help us to live in solidarity with one another,
to seek justice for those who are persecuted
and comfort for those who are suffering.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your
Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the
Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A full house in our first event, learning about the plight of refugees and the stories of many who have been resettled in Raleigh