By Christopher Wells
For almost fifty years, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has celebrated National Migration Week as “an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking.”
The bishops of the United States have chosen the theme “Many Journeys, One Family” for this year’s observance. The theme highlights the fact that migration is common to all families, since all families at some point, whether in the distant past or more recently, have stories of migration.
In a Message for National Migration Week, the President of the USCCB, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, noted that immigration to the United States has changed in the five decades since the Week was first celebrated. However, he said, migrants then and now share “a common desire to secure the great blessings of American opportunity.”
Cardinal DiNardo quoted Pope Francis’ Message for the World Day of Peace, 2018, which focused on migrants and refugees. The Holy Father said migrants and refugees do not arrive in host countries “empty-handed” but bring with them “their courage, skills, energy, and aspirations, as well as the treasures of their own cultures.”
In his statement (full text below), Cardinal DiNardo called on Catholics to reflect on Pope Francis’ words, and on the immigration stories of their own families.
Full text of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo’s statement:
A Message from the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops During National Migration Week, January 7-13
On Sunday, the Catholic Church across the United States will celebrate the beginning of National Migration Week. For nearly 50 years, this week has been a time of prayer and reflection on our history as a migrant Church and nation. In these five decades, the face of the immigrant may have changed – European, Asian, South American, and elsewhere -- but their faces reveal a common desire to secure the great blessings of American opportunity.
Pope Francis, in his statement on the World Day of Peace on January 1, 2018, advises us that if we view the situation of migrants and refugees through the wisdom of our faith 'we discover that they do not arrive empty-handed. They bring their courage, skills, energy and aspirations, as well as the treasures of their own cultures; and in this way, they enrich the lives of the nations that receive them.'
This week, I invite everyone to reflect on the Holy Father's words as well as on your own family's immigration story. Please also join me in prayer for all families, as together, we ‘Share the Journey. . .’ toward a better life.