Refugee Family. Photo: migrants-refugees.va/
This year’s Migrant and Refugee Sunday, 25 September 2022, marks the 108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. In his Message for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees (see below), Pope Francis speaks to the theme of his Message: ‘Building the future with migrants and refugees'.
“In the light of what we have learned in the tribulations of recent times”, says Pope Francis, “we are called to renew our commitment to building a future that conforms ever more fully to God’s plan of a world in which everyone can live in peace and dignity”.
In his Message Pope Francis speaks of God’s all-embracing inclusiveness: “No one must be excluded. God’s plan is essentially inclusive and gives priority to those living on the existential peripheries. Among them are many migrants and refugees, displaced persons, and victims of trafficking.”
“Building the future with migrants and refugees,” says Pope Francis, “also means recognizing and valuing how much each of them can contribute to the process of construction.” The Pope turns to the prophetic vision of the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament: “I like to see this approach to migration reflected in a prophetic vision of Isaiah, which considers foreigners not invaders or destroyers, but willing labourers who rebuild the walls of the new Jerusalem, that Jerusalem whose gates are open to all peoples (cf. Is 60:10-11).”
In Isaiah’s prophecy, the inhabitants of the new Jerusalem always keep the gates of the city wide open, so that foreigners may come in, bringing their gifts: “Your gates shall always be open; day and night they shall not be shut, so that nations shall bring you their wealth” (Is 60:11).
There are challenges to be met, yet also opportunities to be celebrated. “The presence of migrants and refugees represents a great challenge, but at the same time an immense opportunity for the cultural and spiritual growth of everyone”. We also live in gratitude for the gift migrants and refugees are for the world. “Thanks to them we have the chance to know better our world and its beautiful diversity. We can grow in our common humanity and build together an ever greater sense of togetherness.”
In Melbourne, Australia, St Columbans Mission Society networks with the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project in providing accommodation for refugees and people seeking asylum. We have two buildings that are no longer used as residences for our priests. For the past number of years, we have been able to provide accommodation for single men in one building and accommodation for a family in another. Once these men and families are able to secure regular income they then have the means to move into their own rental properties. This is the aim for people with the permission and ability to seek work. Others are not in that position and continue to face homelessness if not assisted.
The families and single men who stay in our accommodation are members of different faith communities as well as Christian traditions. “Openness to one another creates spaces of fruitful exchange between different visions and traditions, and opens minds to new horizons,” says Pope Francis. “It also leads to a discovery of the richness present in other religions and forms of spirituality unfamiliar to us, and this helps us to deepen our own convictions”.
Pope Francis reminds us how, “History teaches us that the contribution of migrants and refugees has been fundamental to the social and economic growth of our societies. This continues to be true in our own day”. For our parish communities across the world, “the arrival of Catholic migrants and refugees can energize the ecclesial life of the communities that welcome them. Often they bring an enthusiasm that can revitalize our communities and enliven our celebrations”. “Sharing different expressions of faith and devotions offers us a privileged opportunity for experiencing more fully the catholicity of the People of God”.
From Oceania and Asia to North and South America, from Ireland and Britain to Pakistan in the Middle East, Columban missionaries have experienced, together with the communities we serve, the richness brought to local communities by migrants and refugees of all faith traditions.
Columban missionaries support and advocate for the rights of migrants and refugees in the countries where we live and work across the world. Together with local churches, we have established Migrant and Refugee Centers as well as shelters and houses of hospitality where those seeking assistance find a warm welcome.
Lord, make us bearers of hope,
so that where there is darkness,
your light may shine,
and where there is discouragement,
confidence in the future may be reborn.
Lord, make us instruments of your justice,
so that where there is exclusion, fraternity may flourish,
and where there is greed, a spirit of sharing may grow.
Lord, make us builders of your Kingdom,
together with migrants and refugees
and with all who dwell on the peripheries.
Lord, let us learn how beautiful it is
to live together as brothers and sisters. Amen
Columban Fr Kevin O’Neill
Peace, Ecology and Justice Office
Columban Mission Centre, Essendon.
- Read more from the current Columban eBulletin
- Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the 108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2022
- WDMR 2022 Resources - Vatican
- WDMR 2022 Resources - Australian Catholic Bishops Conference