Migration has been a reality of our world since ancient times. It has always been a sign of the strength of the human spirit to overcome adversity and strive for a better life. Today, a great number of people move to other places, some by choice and others not. No matter the circumstances, all share the desire to live a safe, peaceful life.
The Church has been celebrating World Day of Migrants and Refugees each year since 1914. World Refugee Day has been marked by the UN on June 20 since 2000. This year, join us on June 29, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, for a special mass to celebrate World Day of Migrants. This is an opportunity for the faith community to reflect upon the role migration has played in our history and tradition, pray for migrants and refugees around the world, and raise awareness about the causes, challenges, and opportunities involved with migration.
Recent tragedies around the world have lead to a dramatic increase in global migrants and refugees, putting a great many men, women, and children in danger. As Christians, we are called to share the burden of those suffering hardship, to open our doors and hearts to the weary and marginalized. The Church recognizes in migrants the image of Christ who said, “I was a stranger and you made me welcome” [Mt 25:35]. As Pope Francis says, “The phenomenon of migration is not unrelated to salvation history, but rather a part of that history. One of God’s commandments is connected to it: “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” [Ex 22:21]; “Love the sojourner therefore; for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt” [Deut. 10:19]” [Pope Francis, September 8, 2016].
On World Day of Migrants, we remember Mary and Joseph, migrants of their time – the hardships they faced, the importance of their journey, and God’s greater plan for them. We can see these same elements in every migration story, and must take the opportunity to reflect on shared human experiences and how we can be a part of the solution to a global challenge. After all, “no one is a stranger in the Christian community, which embraces ‘every nation, tribe, people and tongue’ [Rev 7:9]. Each person is precious; persons are more important than things, and the worth of an institution is measured by the way it treats the life and dignity of human beings, particularly when they are vulnerable” [Pope Francis, September 8, 2016].
Join Bishop William McGrattan on June 29, 7:00 p.m. at St. Mary’s Cathedral to celebrate World Day of Migrants and live the words of Pope Benedict: “The Church is God’s family on earth” [Deus Caritas Est].