Later this week, the Catholic Church will celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Pope Francis’ message reinforces his commitment to those pushed to the peripheries, emphasising that in our societies “migrants, refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking have become emblems of exclusion”. Yet, Francis is clear that it is not just about migrants: it is about all of us ensuring no one is excluded: an “invitation to recover some of those essential dimensions of our Christian existence and our humanity”.
Exclusion is something our refugee friends feel daily. Banned from working, people seeking asylum struggle to access crucial monetary support and are restricted in participating in community. The ban has a profound impact on their lives; with many feeling as though their skills and capacity to develop have been actively diminished.
Pope Francis urges us to put people at the centre, not the fringes of society. Our refugee-led activities strive to empower those we serve, placing refugees at the forefront of the activity-planning process. Spaces of learning and enabling have a long-lasting impact. They provide participants immediate support, and improve leadership skills for the future.
The spaces we create value enablement; giving our friends a chance to discover their own creative talents – whether those are cooking, painting or photography. These spaces encourage participation, ensuring no one is excluded.
Spaces of inclusion are sacred to our friends who, in June, attended a Silk Painting workshop here in Wapping. The workshop explored ways to depict sacred spaces using silk painting – which were later combined to form an exhibition at St Paul’s Cathedral.
The exhibition offered a chance to interact with different community groups, and to relish in sacred space; to participate in London life.
Francis concludes by saying: “it is not only the cause of migrants that is at stake; it is not just about them, but about all of us, and about the present and future of the human family. Migrants help us to read the “signs of the times. … Through them, the Lord invites us to embrace fully our Christian life and to contribute to the building up of a world that is more and more in accord with God’s plan.”
Read Pope Francis’s message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees in full including prayer resources & more!