National Migration Week
This week, January 2-8, we commemorate National Migration Week. The observance of National Migration Week began over a quarter century ago by the bishops to provide Catholics with an opportunity to celebrate the wide diversity in the Catholic Church and the contributions of immigrants and refugees. Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice is the primary theme for this week. Under the umbrella of Hope and Justice, the Bishops calls us to reflect on the stresses and strains that migration has on families.
Recently, we have heard, prayed, and reflected on the stories of the Holy Family. Jesus’ history is rooted in the experience of a displaced people. Mary and Joseph had to return to their ancestral home for a census imposed by a world ruler. Jesus was born as his parents were “on the road”. The Holy Family flees to Egypt because of the threat of violence of Herod. They find refuge in an alien land and people. Later on, they find out that they cannot return to their familiar home of Bethlehem since the threat of a despot ruler continued. Thus, they are forced to settle in the north, in Nazareth. Can we imagine the stresses and strains they had to go through as they moved from one place to another?
Jesus’ experience of being born within a family who was hunted down to be destroyed is also the journey of Israel and ours. The Christmas story aligns Jesus from the beginning with the poor and the vulnerable—those who live in the “uncertainty” of each day. Those who have not place to call home. In the midst of our possessions and securities, sometimes, we forget that all of us are spiritual migrants or aliens—not at home.
Just before Christmas the DREAM ACT (Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors Act) failed to obtain the sixty votes in the U.S. Senate. Archbishop José Gomez, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, described this vote as “setback, not a defeat.” He also articulated the need for more work to be done in the education of Catholics on the issue of immigration and its importance to the mission of the Church and the future of the country.
As we start this new year, some of us may be wondering what’s ahead of us. Some, perhaps, are already making plans for trips, weddings, celebrations…I suggest we put in our calendar, Sunday, April 10, date in which Cardinal Rigali will celebrate the Mass for Migrants and Refugees at the Cathedral at 2:30 p.m.
May the stories and hardships of our immigrant brothers and sisters move us to take concrete steps on the immigration issues in our country! May we find ways to educate ourselves and others in order to stand up for the dignity of life of the members of our one family in God!
Sr. Ruth Bolarte