WASHINGTON, DC --National Migration Week will be observed in dioceses around the country January 5-11. The theme is "Out of the Darkness," and echoes the figurative darkness undocumented immigrants, children, refugees and victims of human trafficking must face when their ability to live out their lives is severely restricted, often due to violence and exploitation.
During the week, Catholics are called to participate through prayer and action to try and ease the struggles of immigrants, migrants and vulnerable populations and to reflect on the Church's obligation to welcome the stranger.
"It is our call as the Church to bring the light of Christ to these populations, banish the darkness, and help to bring them from the margins of society to its center," said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration. "During National Migration Week, we should not only pray for those who are marginalized but also advocate that protections are provided to them, for they need them most."
Bishop Elizondo cited immigration reform legislation, currently pending in Congress, as an example of how the Church and advocates can assist vulnerable migrants and their families.
"Congress must act on reforming our broken immigration system in 2014," he said. "The passage of immigration reform would protect millions of immigrants who otherwise face deportation, detention, and family separation. Catholics across the nation can play an instrumental role in achieving this important goal."
Planned activities for next year's National Migration Week include mailing postcards to Congress on January 7, a call-in day to Congress on January 8 and a social media action day on January 9. Information on how Catholics can join Migration and Refugee Services' efforts to call on Congress to pass fair and comprehensive immigration reform can be found at www.justiceforimmigrants.org.
Goals of the campaign are to:
1. Provide a path to citizenship for undocumented persons in the country.
2. Preserve family unity as a cornerstone of our national immigration system.
3. Provide legal paths for low-skilled immigrant workers to come and work in the United States.
4. Restore due process protections to immigration enforcement policies.
5. Address the root causes of migration caused by persecution and economic disparity.
The observance of National Migration Week was launched over a quarter century ago by the U.S. bishops to give Catholics an opportunity to see the wide diversity of peoples in the Church and the ministries serving them.
Educational materials and other resources for National Migration Week can be found at www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migration-week.
Posters, prayer cards and booklets can be ordered through the USCCB publishing service at www.usccbpublishing.org or by calling 800-235-8722 .