National Migration Week: Creating a Culture of Encounter

This originally appeared in the National Migration Week 2017 toolkit, from the Justice for Immigrants Coalition, of which Columbans are a member. You can read the entire toolkit here.

For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking.

The theme for National Migration Week 2017 draws attention to Pope Francis’ call to create a culture of encounter, and in doing so to look beyond our own needs and wants to those of others around us.

In the homily given at his first Pentecost as pope, he emphasized the importance of encounter in the Christian faith: “For me this word is very important. Encounter with others. Why? Because faith is an encounter with Jesus, and we must do what Jesus does: encounter others.”

With respect to migrants, too often in our contemporary culture we fail to encounter them as persons, and instead look at them as others or render them invisible. We do not take the time to engage migrants in a meaningful way, as fellow children of God, but remain aloof to their presence and suspicious of their intentions.

During this National Migration Week, let us all take the opportunity to engage migrants as community members and neighbors – all of whom are worthy of our attention and support.

Please find in this toolkit suggestions on how you can celebrate National Migration Week and educate community members about the Catholic Church’s position on migration.