Father Alan Hilliard ‘The Living Word’ – World Day of Migrants and Refugees

12 Jan 2018

Please see below the text for the A Living Word broadcast which will be transmitted by RTÉ Radio 1 from Monday 15 – Friday 19 January 2018 to coincide with this year’s publication of the message by Pope Francis for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.  The theme of the message is “Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees”.  Father Alan Hilliard, a priest of the Archdiocese of Dublin and the coordinator of the chaplaincy service for the Dublin Institute of Technology, is the narrator for the broadcast:

Sunday 14 January 2018


Fr Thomas Quinn was born in Strokestown in Co Roscommmon in 1841 and he died in Quebec in Canada in 1914. It was with great emotion that he often spoke of the occasion when the priest in Grosse Isle, who cared for the disease ridden Irish emigrants, took him to his father’s dying bedside. His father lifted his head and recognising his six year old son, said to him ‘Remember your Soul and your Liberty’.

Reading the accounts of Grosse Isle one cannot but be amazed by the warmth and care of those who provided a welcome. Thankfully, for those Irish who made it to shore in 1847, there was little sense among those who welcomed of ‘having to look after our own first’. For the forty-seven Roman Catholic and seventeen Anglican chaplains, they did not see those they ministered to as , Irish, Scottish, dying, sick or angst ridden. Primarily, they looked up on them as their brothers and sisters in Christ and that was the imperative that propelled those good people into action. Their example encouraged people like Thomas Quinn and his brother to live a full life despite the tragedies they experienced. The warmth and care of others aided their integration into their new Nation.

Today we can call people immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, bludgers, welfare frauds, skivers, – the list goes on. Categories such as these can sit easy with us because they help us to do little or to do nothing when it comes to assistance.

In this year’s message for World day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis tells us that “our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate” His message may well have been written following a study of the beliefs, actions and words of the priests and nuns in the Grosse Isle area in 1847 as they supported the souls and protected the liberty of so many forlorn Irish people.


  • Please see the address of Bishop John McAreavey welcoming Pope Francis’ message here.