The Archdiocese of Chicago to Observe National Migration Week, Sept. 18 – 24, 2023
Chicago, (Sept. 15, 2023) – In observance of National Migration Week, Sept. 18-24, 2023, the parishes and Immigration Ministry of the Archdiocese of Chicago will host events throughout the week celebrating Chicagoland’s diverse Catholic community. In solidarity with the Vatican, this year’s theme is “Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay,” and shines a light on the root causes that drive migration.
National Migration Week culminates on Sunday, Sept. 24 with a 5:15 p.m. Mass at Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State St., Chicago. Auxiliary Bishop Robert Lombardo will preside over the Mass that will begin with a procession of nations representing 25 countries and feature readings and prayers in 11 languages including English, Spanish, Polish, Italian, Hindi, Luganda (a language spoken in central Uganda), Vietnamese, Filipino, Portuguese, Swahili, and Bahasa (a language spoken in Indonesia). Testimonies will be shared on the difficult journeys of two migrant families, and the welcome they received through parishes of the Archdiocese of Chicago. The Mass will be livestreamed, and a link will be available on our website the week of Sept. 18.
“The forced displacement of people fleeing war, poverty and persecution in their homelands is at a historic level, and we have a moral obligation to ensure all our sisters and brothers live with safely and dignity,” said Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago. “As asylum seekers and refugees arrive in Chicagoland, may we see Christ in each of them. Like our own ancestors, they have come here from distant and troubled places with hopeful aspirations for a better life for their families. We must welcome and help them. We will change their future and, in doing so, transform our lives.”
In his message for the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2023, Pope Francis said, “The flight of the Holy Family into Egypt was not the result of a free decision, nor were many of the migrations that marked the history of the people of Israel. The decision to migrate should always be free, yet in many cases, even in our day, it is not. Conflicts, natural disasters, or more simply the impossibility of living a dignified and prosperous life in one’s native land is forcing millions of persons to leave.”
The Holy Father adds, “Persecutions, wars, atmospheric phenomena and dire poverty are among the most visible causes of forced migrations today. Migrants flee because of poverty, fear or desperation. Eliminating these causes and thus putting an end to forced migration calls for shared commitment on the part of all, in accordance with the responsibilities of each. This commitment begins with asking what we can do, but also what we need to stop doing. We need to make every effort to halt the arms race, economic colonialism, the plundering of other people’s resources and the devastation of our common home.”
The Archdiocese of Chicago’s National Pastoral Migratoria (Immigrant Social Ministry) has coordinated a comprehensive effort with other U.S. dioceses which have Pastoral Migratoria to raise awareness about National Migration Week. Pastoral Migratoria leaders in these dioceses that include New York; Baltimore; Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., and Stockton, Calif., are coordinating rosaries, legal clinics, health fairs, holy hours, forums and other events in their local areas to support the immigrant community. Masses in observance of National Migration Week will also be celebrated in the archdioceses of Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
For over 40 years, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which has traditionally been linked to the Vatican’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR), as an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and survivors of human trafficking.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops encourages Catholic communities to come together as a universal Church to welcome immigrants and refugees in local parishes, dioceses and broader communities to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants and to pray for and act on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking and to stand in solidarity with them.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), at the end of 2022, 108.4 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations and events seriously disturbing public order. This represents an increase of 19 million people compared to the end of 2021. It is also the largest ever increase between years according to UNHCR’s statistics on forced displacement. More than 1 in every 74 people on Earth has been forced to flee.
More information about events in the archdiocese and other dioceses observing National Migration Week, as well as resources to organize an event at your parish, can be found here: https://pvm.archchicago.org/human-dignity-solidarity/immigration-ministry/national-migration-week