A Phobal Dé,
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas and the 101st World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Sunday, 18 January, 2015, it is important that we come together to remember and pray for all those who have travelled far from their homeland in search of a better life.
In his message, ‘Church without Frontiers, Mother to All’, Pope Francis reminds us how Jesus identifies himself with strangers and outcasts: ‘Jesus Christ is always waiting to be recognised in migrants and refugees, in displaced persons and in exiles, and through them he calls us to share our resources, and occasionally to give up something of our acquired riches.’
Pope Francis has made migration a signature issue of his pontificate. He has spoken out on behalf of the migrants and ‘the globalisation of indifference’, continually emphasising: ‘in an age of such vast movements of migration, large numbers of people are leaving their homelands, with a suitcase full of fears and desires, to undertake a hopeful and dangerous trip in search of more humane living conditions.’ He stresses the need to make efforts to ensure that ‘the dignity and the centrality of the human person is protected, promoting solidarity and dialogue between peoples.’
Large numbers of Irish people continue to travel abroad in search of new opportunities. While their departure creates a void in Irish families and parishes, our communities, villages and towns have also become home to thousands of new residents from all over the world: migrants who have left their home in the hope of starting a new life filled with endless possibility and opportunity. Often these journeys bring uncertainty and unfamiliarity to the migrant and their families. This in turn can lead to significant strain on their emotional and mental wellbeing.
Indeed mental health difficulties are the unspoken injury afflicting whole swathes of the migrant community. We hope this Resource Pack will assist you in highlighting this issue – bringing it in from the periphery of people’s consciousness, so that through dialogue and improved collective awareness people can receive comfort, security and support from their community and parish.
We encourage you to make use of these resources in reaching out to the people of your parish in relation to this important issue. If the Council for Emigrants and Council for Immigrants can be of any assistance to you in your ministry, please contact our offices in Maynooth. We also encourage you to visit our websites: www.catholicbishops.ie/emigrants and www.catholicbishops.ie/immigrants.
Bishop John Kirby, Chair, Irish Bishops’ Council for Emigrants
Bishop Raymond Field, Chair, Irish Bishops’ Council for Immigrants
To download the Migrant Resource Pack, please click here.