The Council for Immigrants of the Irish Bishops’ Conference has made available a parish resource pack for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees on Sunday 15 January 2017. The pack contains the following resources:
- Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the 103 World Day of Migrants and Refugees
- The Plight of Unaccompanied Refugees in Europe – Nasir’s Story
- European Union Unaccompanied Minors Statistics
- Prayers of the Faithful
- Suggested Homily Notes
- Parish actions remembering child migrants on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees
Commenting on this year’s Resource Pack, Bishop Raymond Field, Chair of the Bishops’ Council for Immigrants said, “Parishes are at the centre of welcoming the stranger in our midst, particularly the vulnerable and those in need who are on the periphery of our communities. Pope Francis has made several appeals to parishes, to religious communities, to monasteries, to express the concreteness of the Gospel, and to welcome a family of refugees.”
“In his message for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees Pope Francis builds on this theme of welcome for migrants and refugees and focuses on ‘Child Migrants, the Vulnerable and the Voiceless’. Pope Francis says,
“I feel compelled to draw attention to the reality of child migrants, especially the ones who are alone. In doing so I ask everyone to take care of the young, who in a threefold way are defenceless: they are children, they are foreigners, and they have no means to protect themselves. I ask everyone to help those who, for various reasons, are forced to live far from their homeland and are separated from their families.”
“Childhood, given its fragile nature, has unique and inalienable needs. Above all else, there is the right to a healthy and secure family environment, where a child can grow under the guidance and example of a father and a mother; then there is the right and duty to receive adequate education, primarily in the family and also in the school, where children can grow as persons and agents of their own future and the future of their respective countries. Indeed, in many areas of the world, reading, writing and the most basic arithmetic is still the privilege of only a few. All children, furthermore, have the right to recreation; in a word, they have the right to be children.
“And yet among migrants, children constitute the most vulnerable group, because as they face the life ahead of them, they are invisible and voiceless: their precarious situation deprives them of documentation, hiding them from the world’s eyes; the absence of adults to accompany them prevents their voices from being raised and heard. In this way, migrant children easily end up at the lowest levels of human degradation, where illegality and violence destroy the future of too many innocents, while the network of child abuse is difficult to break up.”
Pope Francis is challenging all of “to work towards protection, integration and long-term solutions.”
Bishop Field concluded by saying, “I hope that this Resource Pack will assist parishes in raising awareness of the challenges facing children across the globe and I encourage all parishes to make use of these resources in reaching out to people on this important issue.”
Click here to download the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2017 Parish Resource Pack for 2017.
The following prayer is offered by the Council of Immigrants as part of this year’s resources:
Prayer for Unaccompanied Migrant Children
Mary, you traveled alone
To reach the loving embrace
Of your beloved family member.
Elizabeth welcomed you with
Open arms and an open heart.
Be with those children
Who are traveling across borders
To seek solace with family.
Protect them from exploitation
And from traumatizing experiences.
Teach us by
The example of the Visitation.
Grant us open arms
And open hearts
To receive your children
Trying to find the way
To a new, life-giving home.
Mary, Mother of the human family,
Help us end the misery
Of children separated from family
By man-made borders
But not by love.
May they arrive, as you did,
To joy and to the benediction
Of a loving embrace.
Prayer by the Sisters of Mercy
For more information on the work of the Council for Immigrants please click here.