During his weekly audience on Sept. 27, Pope Francis kicked off a two-year “Share the Journey” campaign to encourage Catholics to “encounter” migrants and refugees. In response, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is calling for a National Week of Prayer, Oct. 7-14.
The new campaign is focused on providing practical ways for Catholics to break down barriers of fear and build bridges with migrants and refugees.
Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the USCCB are part of a global network of organizations participating in the campaign. As a part of the collective efforts, the organizations have launched the website, www.sharejourney.org to provide access to ideas and tools to further
participation in the campaign.
Among the initiatives are new prayers for the faithful to recite collectively during Mass each week, homily resources for priests, social media tools, volunteer opportunities, and educational resources aimed at sharing stories of migrants and refugees.
The campaign seeks to highlight both international and domestic efforts, such as the plight of Syrian refugees, DACA recipients fearing deportation, and asylum seekers in Egypt.
Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has made the cause of refugees and migrants one of special concern to him. His first trip outside Rome as pope was a day trip to the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, where he celebrated Mass to memorialize the thousands of refugees that had died there trying to reach Europe. In his homily, the pope criticized the “global indifference” toward to the plight of migrants and refugees.
Just last week Francis sent a letter to the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as they marked the centennial of the death of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini in Chicago this week. The Italian-born Mother Cabrini, as she is widely known, founded the missionary congregation in 1880 in support of immigrants moving to the United States from Italy.
“The great migrations underway today need guidance filled with love and intelligence similar to what characterizes the Cabrinian charism,” Pope Francis wrote.
– Christopher White