On June 20, the United Nations recognizes World Refugee Day. As we approach that day, it is fitting to take stock of both the plight of refugees in the world today, as well as our responsibility to protect and provide safe haven to these most vulnerable people in our human family. In the last week of May, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said at least 1,000 people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and North Africa are believed to have drowned in...
Migration & Refugees
We are called to welcome the stranger.
Columban missionaries serve migrants and refugees in a dozen countries throughout Asia Pacific and the Americas, as well as on the U.S. – Mexico border. Keeping in mind the Gospel mandate and our Catholic Social Teaching, we strive to “welcome the stranger” and to protect and promote the rights of migrants and refugees everywhere.
As Columbans, we believe we are called to both serve the needs of migrants and to address the root causes of migration.
We advocate for action on root causes of migration.
In 2015, the number of migrants internationally reached 244 million, including 20 million refugees (UN Migration). These include economic migrants compelled to move to feed their families, refugees and internally displaced persons fleeing persecution and environmental crises, and victims of human trafficking.
We recognize the right to migrate in order to seek both safety and a higher quality of life, but often global economic policies, environmental crises, and conflicts result in grave inequalities and unstable conditions forcing people to move. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has recognized, “all peoples have the right to conditions worthy of human life and, if these conditions are not present, the right to migrate.”
We advocate for compassionate immigration reform.
Columbans respond to the harsh realities that migrants face, including separation from their families and imprisonment in detention centers and jails. Compassionate immigration reform is necessary to ensure family unity, protect the rights and dignity of migrants, and heal our communities.
On the U.S. – Mexico Border, countless migrants have risked death and deportation to cross into the U.S. in order to flee the violence and instability in their home countries. In the midst of a destructive militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, Columbans call for a more compassionate border policy that affirms the dignity of migrants and celebrates the vibrancy and importance of border communities which continue to welcome our migrant brothers and sisters.
We advocate for reforms to stop human trafficking.
Migrants and refugees are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking. Victims of human trafficking often leave their home countries to seek better economic conditions to support their families. This too can lead to exploitation of migrants, putting them in danger of death or serious injury, sexual abuse, and low wages. As God calls us to respect the dignity of every human life, we must continue to support policies that represent the interests of migrant workers and refugees.
- Columban Statement on Migration
- Learn about Columban Border Awareness trips
- Current Statements and Press Releases
Migration & Refugees
This past Christmas Eve, we remember how our hearts sank when we first received notification of the administration’s plan to carry out immigration raids on newly-arrived Central American families. That’s when we wrote to you in January asking you to raise your voice to protect our immigrant brothers and sisters. Today, we must once again ask you to call on the administration to stop these inhumane and unjust enforcement actions.
As the national advocacy office representing the Missionary Society of St. Columban in the U.S. region, the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach stands in solidarity with marginalized people whom Columban missionaries serve in 15 countries throughout the world, including the United States. As missionary disciples of Jesus, we are called to heal, reconcile, build bridges, and create mutual understanding through prophetic dialogue. Our commitment to interculturality, interfaith...
Widespread violence in the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) of Central America, one of the most dangerous places on earth, is the root cause of women and children leaving their countries of origin and seeking asylum in the United States. Violence undermines women and children in their immediate households, neighborhoods, and workplaces. Not surprisingly, since 2008, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has reported a nearly five-fold increase in the...
After the Transfiguration, the disciples walk down from the mountain with Jesus, and then a large crowd meets them. In Luke’s version, the incapacity and defects of the disciples is emphasized. These would-be leaders of the people, who were given authority and power over all demons and the power to heal (9:1-2), still have much to learn: they are not in charge, but under a charge. Jesus needs us to continue his mission. Not everyone recognizes that we are sent, and that we, as disciples of...
At the presentation of Jesus in the temple, Simeon told Mary that a sword would pierce her: “and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:35) Although no actual physical harm came to Mary, Simeon’s prophesy came true. The sword that pierced her was the anguish, grief, and sorrow she experienced as her Son was crucified. Her sorrows were the focus of the 13th century poem Stabat Mater Dolorosa (The Sorrowful Mother Stood), which was...
Pope Francis’ historic visit to Mexico culminated in a visit to Ciudad Juarez, a city along the Mexico-US border, where he blessed migrants and celebrated mass with more than 300,000 faithful. By holding mass in such a politically and geographically significant location, the pope affirmed the Columban commitment to just and merciful migration and border policies. Columbans have lived and worked in both Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas, cities separated by...
This Friday, Pope Francis’ plane will arrive in Mexico City, Mexico, marking the beginning of another historical visit on behalf of the Argentinian pontiff. For six days, the pope plans to travel to various parts of the country, meeting with everyone from indigenous representatives to the Bishops of Mexico and many more. His visit will culminate in a celebration of mass in Ciudad Juarez, directly on the U.S.-Mexico border, a place very familiar to the Columban community....