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For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which provides an opportunity for the Church to highlight the presence and situation of immigrants, refugees, victims, and survivors of human trafficking. The week serves as a time for both prayer and action in support of immigrants and refugees.
Organized by Justice for Immigrants at the U.S. Conference for Catholic Bishops, the theme for this year’s celebration is “Building Communities of Welcome.” It emphasizes our responsibility and opportunity as Catholics to engage and welcome newcomers on their arrival and help to ease their transition into a new life here in the United States. To read more about this observation and to download resources visit Justice for Immigrants’ website or at the link below.
Educational materials and other resources for National Migration Week are available for download at https://justiceforimmigrants.org/take-action/national-migration-week/.
Minnesota faces real challenges to life and human dignity. Catholics are called to respond and on March 9th Minnesota’s bishops, dynamic Church speakers, and over 1,000 Catholics from across the state will convene in St. Paul for Catholics at the Capitol, a day of inspiration and advocacy organized by the Minnesota Catholic Conference. Topics to be addressed include assisted suicide, school choice, and support for struggling families.
Attendees will be informed about the issues, inspired to bring their faith into the public square, and equipped to have meaningful conversations with their legislators.
Among the attendees and making the four-hour drive from White Earth, MN will be Oblate Fr. John Cox, OMI, of St. Ann’s parish along with others from the diocese of Crookston, Minnesota traveling by bus.
Fr. John Cox, OMI, with Fr. Joe Hitpas, OMI, and Fr. Dan Nassaney, OMI, serve the Catholic community of the White Earth Indian (Ojibwe) Reservation in Northwestern Minnesota. Fr. John will lead the group visiting legislators representing Minnesota State District 2.
Prompted by recent alarming executive actions by the new administration, the U.S. Provincial Fr. Bill Antone, OMI, on February 7 penned a letter to the Province inviting Oblates and Associates to reflect on the challenges of our nation today. The letter begins: “There are many contrasting voices in our nation these days.” It continues, “How can we be engaged?… These times call us to reflect deeply on how our Catholic faith and principles can shed light upon a myriad of questions we face concerning immigrants, ecology, economy, trade, human rights, race, patriotism, church unity, world order, checks and balances, war and peace.”
Early in his message Fr. Bill called on the JPIC office to “assist us, as appropriate, with some resources, reflections and suggestions for action.” Under our Oblate JPIC initiative of Human Dignity we work on issues that promote respect for God’s creation, recognizing that the dignity of the human person is rooted in his or her creation in the image and likeness of God. In this resource we hope to provide you with reflections and actions to encourage your solidarity with a few of these communities: migrants/refugees, trafficking victims and those whose lives are threatened.
Read Fr. Bill’s full letter here.
Solidarity with Refugees and Immigrants
Today, more refugees are fleeing wars and persecutions than ever on record. According to UN data, 2015 saw the highest levels of displaced people in history, with 51% of this number being children. Click here for reflections and suggested actions on behalf of refugees and immigrants.
Ending Human Trafficking
Modern slavery, also known as human trafficking is ‘the illegal trade in people for exploitation or commercial gain.’ It is the second largest criminal activity today, second only to the illegal drug trade, and it is growing. Human Trafficking generates more revenue than Google, Starbucks, Nike and the NFL combined (International Labor Organization (ILO). Click here for reflections and suggested actions on behalf of human trafficking victims.
Inspired by Catholic Social Teaching, the Missionary Oblates JPIC Consistent Life initiative advocates for the dignity of all human life. We believe that life is sacred and should be protected in all stages. As a society, we lack a fundamental respect for human life. Click here for reflections and suggested actions on behalf of people whose lives are threatened.
February 8th has been designated by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General as an annual day of prayer and awareness against human trafficking. February 8th is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in Sudan and Italy. She learned from Canossian nuns that she was created in the image of God and possessed human dignity. Once she asserted herself and refused to be enslaved, Josephine became a Canossian sister and dedicated her life to sharing her testament of deliverance from slavery and comforting the poor and suffering.
In October 2000, Josephine Bakhita was canonized by Pope John Paul II, at which point he noted that “in St. Josephine Bakhita we find a shining advocate of genuine emancipation. The history of her life inspires not passive acceptance but the firm resolve to work effectively to free girls and women from oppression and violence, and to return them to their dignity in the full exercise of their rights.”
On February 8th, Catholics all over the world are encouraged to host or attend prayer services to create greater awareness about human trafficking. Through prayer, we not only reflect on the experiences of those that have suffered through this affront to human dignity but also comfort, strengthen, and help empower survivors. As Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, former Chairman of the Committee on Migration, has stated: “On that day, we will lift our voices loudly in prayer, hope, and love for trafficking victims and survivors. If just one person realizes from this day that they or someone they know is being trafficked, we will have made a difference.”
Download a prayer resource created by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Visit USCCB’s Anti-trafficking website to learn more.
Our faith calls us to pray, fast, and give to charity during Lent. As we look inward and reflect on our own lives, let us also remember our struggling brothers and sisters around the world and even people right in our backyards. To help support your Lenten devotion, Missionary Oblates JPIC is pleased to offer weekly resources centered on a justice theme.
New this week – Download Spanish version of the Week IV Consistent Life Lenten Resource!
WEEK IV — Consistent life is about right to life but also quality of life. Our challenge is to view all life as sacred and honor all people. Please feel free to share this resource with your congregations, communities and use during your own prayer time. Download the resource here.
WEEK III — The environment/climate change is this week’s focus. 2015 was the year for global action on the environment with several significant happenings, including the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home, and huge rallies for the environment held around the world. Download the resource here.
WEEK II — This second week we focus on the global occurrence of modern day slavery, also known as human trafficking. An estimated 30 million people worldwide are trafficked at any given time. Please feel free to share this resource with your congregations, communities and use during your prayer time. Download the resource here.
WEEK I — This week’s focus is migration, a pressing global issue that affects us all. Please feel free to share this resource with your congregations, communities and use during your prayer time. Download the resource here.
Missionary Oblates JPIC is pleased to offer resources for the 2015 Advent season for you to adapt and use in your congregations, communities and personal prayer time. The Advent packet includes themes for the four weeks of Advent with related scripture, quotes from Saint Eugène De Mazenod, reflections and action. Please feel free to share this resource. Download the resource here.
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