Sunday 17 January is the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Pope Francis has asked us to reflect on a particular theme for 2016 which is ‘Migrants and Refugees Challenge Us. The Response of the Gospel of Mercy’. In his message Pope Francis says:
Migration movements are now a structural reality, and our primary issue must be to deal with the present emergency phase by providing programmes which address the causes of migration and the changes it entails, including its effect on the makeup of societies and peoples. The tragic stories of millions of men and women daily confront the international community as a result of the outbreak of unacceptable humanitarian crises in different parts of the world. Indifference and silence lead to complicity whenever we stand by as people are dying of suffocation, starvation, violence and shipwreck. Whether large or small in scale, these are always tragedies, even when a single human life is lost.
Migrants are our brothers and sisters in search of a better life, far away from poverty, hunger, exploitation and the unjust distribution of the planet’s resources which are meant to be equitably shared by all. Don’t we all want a better, more decent and prosperous life to share with our loved ones?
Pope Francis goes on to highlight how the presence of migrants and refugees seriously challenges the various societies which accept them:
Those societies are faced with new situations which could create serious hardship unless they are suitably motivated, managed and regulated. How can we ensure that integration will become mutual enrichment, open up positive perspectives to communities, and prevent the danger of discrimination, racism, extreme nationalism or xenophobia?
Pope Francis then reminds us to welcome the stranger:
Biblical revelation urges us to welcome the stranger; it tells us that in so doing, we open our doors to God, and that in the faces of others we see the face of Christ himself. Many institutions, associations, movements and groups, diocesan, national and international organizations are experiencing the wonder and joy of the feast of encounter, sharing and solidarity. They have heard the voice of Jesus Christ: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (Rev 3:20). Yet there continue to be debates about the conditions and limits to be set for the reception of migrants, not only on the level of national policies, but also in some parish communities whose traditional tranquillity seems to be threatened.
Faced with these issues, how can the Church fail to be inspired by the example and words of Jesus Christ? The answer of the Gospel is mercy.
To read the full text of the Pope’s message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees please click here
Parish Resource Pack
The Council for Immigrants of the Irish Bishops’ Conference has released a parish resource pack to celebrate the World Day for Migrants and Refugees 2016. The pack contains the following useful resources to be used on Sunday or throughout the year:
- Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the 102nd World Day of Migrants and Refugees
- Asylum Statistics in the European Union and Ireland
- Prayers of the Faithful
- Suggested Homily Notes
- Parish actions and reflections to aid parish groups explore the issues of migration
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. As Pope Francis stated in his message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2016: “Faced with the tragedy of tens of thousands refugees fleeing death on account of war and hunger and who are traveling toward a hope for life, the Gospel calls us to be ‘neighbours’ to the smallest and abandoned, (and) to give them a concrete hope,” He continued it is not enough just to say “courage, patience!” because hope “is combative, with the tenacity of those who go toward a safe destination. Therefore the imminence of the Year of Mercy, I make an appeal to the parishes, to religious communities, to monasteries, and sanctuaries of all Europe to express the concreteness of the Gospel, and to welcome a family of refugees.”
Click here to download the Parish Resource Pack for World Day Migrants and Refugees 2016
Prayer for Migrants and Refugees
Mary Most Holy, you, together with St. Joseph and the Child Jesus, experienced the suffering of exile.
You were forced to flee to Egypt to escape the persecution of Herod.
Today we entrust the men, women and children who live as migrants and refugees to your maternal protection.
Grant us the grace to welcome them with Christian hospitality, so that these brothers and sisters of ours may find acceptance and understanding on their journey.
Teach us to recognise your Son
in the migrant who labours to bring food to our tables
in the refugee seeking protection from persecution, war and famine
in the man, woman and child who are victims of human trafficking
in the asylum seeker imprisoned for fleeing without documents
May all those who are far from their place of birth find in the Church a home where no one is a stranger.
We ask this in the name of your blessed Son, Jesus, our Lord, Amen.
Prayer for Refugees
Almighty and merciful God,
Whose Son became a refugee
And had no place to call his own.
Look with mercy on those who today
Are fleeing from danger,
Homeless and hungry.
Bless those who work to bring them relief;
Inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts;
And guide the nations of Europe towards that day
When all will rejoice in your Kingdom of justice and peace.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.
For more information on the work of the Council for Immigrants please click here