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WASHINGTON—National Migration Week will be observed in dioceses around the country January 8-14. This year’s theme, “Welcoming Christ in the Migrant,” and the artistic renderings in the week’s materials depict the disciples welcoming a stranger on the road to Emmaus.
“Just as on the road to Emmaus, Christ's disciples met him in the guise of a stranger, this year's theme helps remind us that Christ makes himself present to each of us in the lonesome traveler, the newcomer, and the migrant,” said Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles. “We are called to open our hearts and provide hospitality to those in need, especially for migrants who find themselves far away from home and in vulnerable situations.” Archbishop Gomez is the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration.
Dioceses around the country will mark National Migration Week with different activities. At the national level, USCCB and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) are sponsoring a multi-state conference with the theme “Immigration: a 50 State issue,” which will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah, January 11-13.
The observance of National Migration Week was begun over a quarter century ago by the U.S. bishops to provide Catholics an opportunity to take stock of the wide diversity of peoples in the Church and the ministries serving them. As the face of the local church continues to change, educational materials produced for National Migration Week have become increasingly important. They can be used throughout the year by individuals, families, schools and parishes to learn about the complex issues surrounding migration.
Resources for National Migration Week can be found on the USCCB website (http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migration-week/). Posters, prayer cards and booklets can be ordered through the USCCB publishing service at http://www.usccbpublishing.org or by calling 800-235-8722.
Additionally, the U.S. bishops continue to encourage advocacy efforts by the Catholic community on comprehensive immigration reform. Visit the Justice for Immigrants Campaign website for more information: www.justiceforimmigrants.org
Earlier this year, Pope Benedict XVI also unveiled the theme for the 98th World Day of Migrants and Refugees to be celebrated January 15, 2012: “Migration and the New Evangelization.” In his message the pope says that the present time calls upon the Church to intensify its missionary activity both in the regions where the Gospel is proclaimed for the first time and in countries with a Christian tradition.
“Proclaiming Jesus Christ the one Savior of the world ‘constitutes the essential mission of the Church’…Today we feel the urgent need to give a fresh impetus and new approaches to the work of evangelization in a world in which the breaking down of frontiers and the new processes of globalization are bringing individuals and peoples even closer,” said Pope Benedict.
Internal or international migration, in search of better living conditions or to flee from the threat of persecution, war and violence, has led to an unprecedented mingling of individuals and peoples, with new problems not only from the human standpoint but also from ethical, religious and spiritual ones, the pope said. And, he added, “Christian communities are to pay special attention to migrant workers and their families by accompanying them with prayer, solidarity and Christian charity, as well as by fostering new political, economic and social planning that promotes respect for the dignity of every human person.” World Day of Migrants and Refugees was instituted by Pope Pius X in 1914.
Pope Benedict’s message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2012 can be found at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/migration/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20110921_world-migrants-day_en.html.
Keywords: migrants, refugees, National Migration Week, World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Archbishop José Gomez, Migration and Refugee Services, U.S. Catholic Bishops
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