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In his Apostolic Constitution, Exsul Familia, Pope Pius XII referred to the Holy Family, "fleeing
into Egypt, is the archetype of every refugee family." Fleeing the fury of an
evil king, the Holy Family is an embodiment of the millions of families fleeing
violence and death around the world. Imagine Joseph, struggling in Egypt to
support his family as they await a time when they can return home. Or think of
the difficult journey that the Holy Family faced as they fled the dangers in
their homeland. These are problems that many migrants confront on a daily basis
as they try to make their way in a new land, or simply struggle to get there in
the first place.
National Migration Week 2015 will take place January 4 – 10 with the theme, "We are One Family Under God," which brings to mind the importance of family in our daily lives. This reminder is particularly important when dealing with the migration phenomenon, as family members are too often separated from one another.
A dearth of economic opportunities confronting large segments of Latin America, the Caribbean, and elsewhere places significant strain on families and often presents them with a troubling choice. Some choose to stay together and remain in their home country, even amidst difficult conditions in which economic stresses wear on familial attachments and communal stability. Others choose to leave their family and head northward, with the hope of making it to the United States, finding worthwhile employment, and sending money home. The lure of a better life in the United States and in other developed countries promises opportunities, but it also carries its own dangers.
The threat of violence in countries of origin also threatens family cohesion. Whether in the midst of refugee crises, where family members are uprooted by war and persecution and families are often torn apart. One need only think of places like Syria or the Central African Republic to find examples of forced migration that are occurring on an epic scale. In Latin America today the outbreak in violence has resulted in the forced migration of thousands of unaccompanied migrant children who are fleeing from their crime ridden neighborhoods for a place of safety.In the coming months we will be providing more information on material that can be used during your National Migration Week celebration and throughout the year. In the meantime, we are happy to announce two important initiatives for the 2015 National Migration Week:
1. Small Grants Program: Through this initiative MRS/USCCB seeks to assist Catholic parishes, schools and organizations to more fully integrate Catholic teaching and the bishops' priorities concerning migration into new or existing programs, materials, events, and other activities. As a result, these organizations and their members will demonstrate a new understanding of the Church's teaching on the moral dimensions of migration (with a particular emphasis on children's issues) and a willingness to engage in practical and public policy efforts, educational outreach, and liturgical celebrations consistent with this teaching. The deadline for submission is Friday, October 31, 2014.
2. Children and Youth Poster Contest: MRS/USCCB is sponsoring a
migration themed Children and Youth Poster Contest that highlights the various
ways in which migration manifests itself in the United States and around the
world. Posters could focus on the experience of refugee children and youth who
want to creatively express what resettlement in the United States has meant to
them, immigrant children and youth who want to reflect on their immigration
experience, and native-born American children and youth who want to express
their understanding of migration in our contemporary world and welcoming
newcomers. The deadline for submission for the poster contest is October 31,
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