This Sunday marks the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, and from January 7 to the 13, the U.S. Catholic Church celebrated National Migration Week. This year's theme "Many Journeys, One Family, draws attention to the fact that we are all migrants."
Each family in the United States has a migration story. Many of these stories are recent. However, most migrant stories in our country started in a very distant past. Some stories have even been forgotten. Nevertheless, regardless of where we are and where we came from, we remain part of the human family. All family stories are important. We are important.
"As millions of God's children flee war, persecution and poverty, Pope Francis, Caritas Internationalis, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, and Catholic Relief Services invite you to share their journey by walking with them in prayer and support".
Pope Francis often underlines that "to follow Jesus we must embrace being compassionate". We are to love our neighbor especially the poor and the suffering. "Our neighbors live across the street and across the country, across oceans and hemispheres".
The Holy Father's message for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees calls us to reach out to migrants and share their journey. Following are a few excerpts from Pope Francis' message.
"You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 19:34).
"When I instituted the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, I wanted a particular section – under my personal direction for the time being – to express the Church's concern for migrants, displaced people, refugees and victims of human trafficking".
"Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age (Matthew 25:35-43)".
Click here to read or download the Holy Father's message for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
On the journey,
Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski