World Day of Migrants and Refugees is celebrated every year on the last Sunday of September. It is an opportunity to learn more about refugees and migrants on the move, to pray for them as a community, and work together to for positive change.
This year, Caritas Westminster and the Jesuit Refugee Service UK have co-produced resources for you to use in your community. You can use these resources as they are, or choose to adapt them depending on your parish community and the issues that are important to you.
“This is why marking WDMR as a community is important – though we should be living out hospitality every day, it can be useful to have an annual event to remind us of our commitment to welcome the stranger and respect the dignity of all human lives. Marking it – by talking to others, praying, holding a fundraiser, coordinating a welcome event – is also an act of witness to our neighbours. We see in those who move our sisters and brothers. We care. We want to, and we will, make a welcome.”
The theme of this year’s WDMR is “free to choose whether to migrate or to stay”. In his message, Pope Francis reminds us that the decision to move is not always voluntary. He urges us to help build peace and stability in places where people are being forced to move.
“Migrants flee because of poverty, fear or desperation. Eliminating these causes and thus putting an end to forced migration calls for shared commitment on the part of all, in accordance with the responsibilities of each.”
Today, many people have no choice but to leave their homes, and on these journeys are treated without respect.
For example, for the vast majority of people who seek asylum in the UK, there are no safe and accessible routes. People are thus forced to make dangerous journeys to come to the UK, and often face punishment and hostility for the way they travelled here. Many asylum seekers are detained or forced into years of destitution.
Instead, Pope Francis encourages us to offer welcome and hospitality to those that are forced to move, to treat them as sisters and brothers in Christ.
“Consequently, even as we work to ensure that in every case migration is the fruit of a free decision, we are called to show maximum respect for the dignity of each migrant; this entails accompanying and managing waves of migration as best we can, constructing bridges and not walls, expanding channels for a safe and regular migration.”
“…the important thing is that there always be a community ready to welcome, protect, promote and integrate everyone, without distinctions and without excluding anyone.”
On Wednesday 20th September, 6pm, The Catholic Social Action Network (CSAN) will be holding a webinar to speak about the theme of World Day of Migrants and Refugees: “Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay”. Speakesr will include Christine Allen from CAFOD, Bishop Paul McAleenan and a representative from the Vatican Dicastory for Human Development.