Bishop Paul McAleenan, our Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees, says that this year’s special day of prayer for migrants and refugees is an opportunity for Catholics throughout the world to remember and pray for those who are displaced through war, poverty and persecution
It is also, he points out, a day to raise awareness of the fact that migration offers opportunities for many people.
The World Day of Migrants and Refugees is celebrated in Catholic parishes on Sunday, 25th September 2022.
Hello and greetings to everyone.
I am Bishop Paul McAleenan, the Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees at the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
Every year, the Church throughout the world devotes a day to migrants and refugees. This year, 2022, the day will be celebrated on Sunday, 25 September. You may think that this day, WDMR, as it’s called, World Day of Migrants and Refugees, is in response to the coverage of new arrivals to our country and migration. In fact, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees has been held annually since 1914 – an indication that displacement from one’s homeland has long been a feature of life for many people.
This day is an opportunity for Catholics throughout the world to remember and pray for those who are displaced through war, poverty and persecution, and also to raise awareness of the fact that migration offers opportunity to many people. It benefits many.
In 2020, Pope Francis, in his message, said, if we wish to promote those whom we wish to assist, then we must involve them and make them agents of their own redemption. In his message for this year, 2022, the Holy Father expands on those words by choosing the theme ‘Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees’.
In our parishes and in our neighbourhoods, we can see that migration is a reality. There are many people from other countries. Pope Francis appeals to us to adopt an attitude of welcome to those who live among us, reminding us that they can revitalise our communities and enliven celebrations in our parishes. Their presence is a witness to the Catholicity of God’s people. Without undermining or devaluing our own culture and values, we are asked to be open to the treasure and the variety of gifts that migrants and refugees bring to our communities.
It is edifying that many parishes are reaching out to migrants and refugees. I know of one group who, motivated by their faith and working ecumenically, invite migrants and refugees to English language conversation classes. That is an example of how Pope Francis’s call to build the future together is being lived out.
Two other events have taken place which portray the Church’s commitment to migrants and refugees. In March of this year, the Papal Nuncio, that is the Pope’s representative to Great Britain, visited Napier Barracks in Folkestone, where a number of people are housed. He spent time with them. He conveyed to them both the concern and the best wishes of Pope Francis. He returned at a later date to present a Papal Blessing personally signed by the Holy Father.
In October 2021, a 3.5-metre high puppet called Amal was welcomed in Westminster Cathedral to music and dance and a great atmosphere of prayer.
In cathedrals and parish halls and holding centres, the love of God has been extended to those who are marginalised, to those who are poor, and in need, and I thank everyone involved in this wonderful work.
We are also grateful to those who, using their professional expertise advocate the cause of migrants and refugees – in weighty matters and in smaller but essential ways.
The love of God has been extended and migrants and refugees are receiving a welcome from God’s people and encouragement, which is much needed. It is work that must increase and must continue.
I ask you to pray and to remember migrants, refugees, displaced persons – through war, persecution, climate change and all those on the move seeking a better life.
On Sunday, 25th September, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, may God give us all of the grace to work
together with migrants and refugees to build a better future.
A prayer that we will build the future together with migrants and refugees…
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.