US Church highlights the presence and situation of immigrants

Pope Francis greeting emigrants and refugees (photo Paul Haring - CNS)

“Building Communities of Welcome” – is the theme for this year’s National Migration week which is celebrated every year in the United States.

The theme emphasizes the responsibility and opportunity for Catholics to engage and welcome newcomers on their arrival and help to ease their transition into a new life here in the United States.

National Migration Week 2019 is being observed from January 6 – 12. For nearly a half-century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, reports “Zenith” news agency.

The week provides an opportunity for the Church to highlight the presence and situation of immigrants, refugees, victims, and survivors of human trafficking. It serves as a time for both prayer and action in support of immigrants and refugees.

Welcoming communities do not emerge by chance but are established through the hard work and conviction of people on the ground through direct service, shared experience and faith, advocacy, and institution building.

Unfortunately, in our contemporary culture we often fail to encounter migrants as persons, and instead look at them as unknown others, if we even notice them at all. We do not take the time to engage migrants in a meaningful way, as fellow children of God, but remain aloof to their presence and suspicious or fearful of them.

“In this moment, it is particularly important for the Church to highlight the spirit of welcome that we are all called to embody in response to immigrant and refugee populations who are in our midst sharing our Church and our communities,” said Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops appealed that during this National Migration Week, “let us all take the opportunity to engage migrants as community members, neighbors, and friends. To do so, we will look at the important role that foster care plays in the lives of unaccompanied immigrants and refugees, highlight MRS’ Parishes Organized to Welcome Refugees, and examine local initiatives that are making important contributions in this regard.

The Bishops and “Catholic Charities” sent a joint letter to the Office of Policy and Strategy of the Office for Cirizenship and Immigration Services at the Department of Homeland Security to protest about changes the US Government is proposing in the Immigration Law which changes they labelled as illegal and morally offensive.