Nearly one hundred years ago, the Vatican established a tradition in the Church of recognizing immigrants in the month of January. Since 1980, the U.S. Catholic Bishops have set aside the first week of January each year as National Migration Week to raise consciousness of the global and diverse nature of the Church, and to acknowledge the struggles and contributions of immigrants in this country.
This year, the focus is “Migrant Families.” In his 2011 World Day of Migrants and Refugees statement (embed link found below) Pope Benedict XVI cites the bond as one human family, which places demands on us as brothers and sisters in Christ. This responsibility includes using our gifts to make immigrant families feel welcome and supported, as Cardinal George intimates in his 2011 National Immigration Week Statement.
Because comprehensive immigration reform still has not passed, attention to the immigrant families in our communities – particularly those who are undocumented – is all the more important in 2011. Deportations have been increasing in the last couple of years. I experience this devastation of separation of families when I am at the Broadview detention center every Friday. I know God is also giving us (people of faith) an opportunity to embrace these families while they are in our midst. We cannot ignore the suffering of families whose loved ones have been deported.
We, as people of faith, are called to respond to the suffering of families. I encourage you to prayerfully reflect on the Cardinal’s message. Please consider his requests for prayer, reflection and dialogue in your family and faith communities. I also invite you and your parish to participate in the work and ministries of our office (visit our website at www.archchicago.org/immigration) – we are the largest U.S. diocesan office dedicated to immigrants. I invite you to learn more about our Immigrant to Immigrant Ministry within the Hispanic and Polish communities. Take a look at our 2010 annual report available at www.archchicago.org/Immigration/AboutUs.aspx.
Additional Resources for National Migration Week