Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees
The Catholic Church in the United States is an immigrant Church with a long history of embracing diverse newcomers and providing assistance and pastoral care to immigrants, migrants, refugees, and people on the move.
Our Church has responded to Christ’s call for us to “welcome the stranger among us,” for in this encounter with the immigrant, the migrant, and the refugee in our midst, we encounter Christ. A rich body of Church teaching, including Papal encyclicals, Bishops’ statements and pastoral letters, has consistently reinforced our moral obligation to treat the stranger as we would treat Christ himself.
The pastoral statement Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity issued by the Bishops of the United States in 2001, calls upon the Catholic faithful to a conversion of minds and hearts. It implores us to a communion and solidarity with diverse newcomers and entreating us to find new and meaningful ways to welcome our immigrant sisters and brothers into our parishes, schools and communities.
In 2003, the Bishops of the United States and Mexico acknowledged in their joint pastoral statement Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope / Juntos en el Camino de la Esperanza Ya no Somos Extranjeros that the current immigration system is in need of a thorough reform. They also offered a set of comprehensive recommendations to change the U.S. laws and policies that may bring about a more humane and just immigration system in our nation.
For more information and resources, visit the Vatican website for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
- The Vatican website for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees was created by an action-oriented Vatican office directed by Pope Francis to ensure that those forced to flee are not shut out or left behind.
- The USCCB’s Office of Migration and Refugee Services fulfills the commitment of the U.S. Catholic bishops to protect the life and dignity of the human person. The office serves and advocates for refugees, asylees, migrants, unaccompanied children, and victims of human trafficking.
- Justice for Immigrants is a USCCB initiative created to educate the public about Church teaching on migration, to create political will for just and humane immigration reform, and to advocate for dignified and fair reforms in immigration and refugee laws and policies.
- Check for action alerts from Justice for Immigrants to stay informed about the latest policy proposals and to learn how you can make your voice heard.
- Connect with the DC Catholic Conference and the Maryland Catholic Conference to learn how you can advocate on a local level.
- Learn how you can help Catholic Relief Services with their advocacy efforts to support refugees through addressing the root causes of poverty.
- Volunteer with or donate to Catholic Charities Legal Network or Catholic Legal Immigration Network.
A prayer for migrants and refugees (from the USCCB)
Lord Jesus, when you multiplied the loaves and fishes, you provided more than food for the body, you offered us the gift of yourself, the gift which satisfies every hunger and quenches every thirst! Your disciples were filled with fear and doubt, but you poured out your love and compassion on the migrant crowd, welcoming them as brothers and sisters.
Lord Jesus, today you call us to welcome the members of God’s family who come to our land to escape oppression, poverty, persecution, violence, and war. Like your disciples, we too are filled with fear and doubt and even suspicion. We build barriers in our hearts and in our minds.
Lord Jesus, help us by your grace, to banish fear from our hearts, that we may embrace each of your children as our own brother and sister; to welcome migrants and refugees with joy and generosity, while responding to their many needs; to realize that you call all people to your holy mountain to learn the ways of peace and justice; to share of our abundance as you spread a banquet before us; to give witness to your love for all people, as we celebrate the many gifts they bring.
We praise you and give you thanks for the family you have called together from so many people. We see in this human family a reflection of the divine unity of the one Most Holy Trinity in whom we make our prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.