Following Pope Francis’ Sept. 27 kickoff of a two-year campaign called “Share the Journey” — meant to encourage support for migrants and refugees — the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in tandem with Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities, are encouraging prayer and action when it comes to “welcoming the stranger.”
“The Holy Father has repeatedly called on us to support migrants and refugees forcibly displaced from their homes,” said Joan Rosenhauer, CRS vice president for U.S. operations. “We’re called by the Gospel to love our neighbor, and amid a global refugee crisis not seen since World War II, we have to do more to welcome and support those whose lives are threatened by violence and poverty. In the U.S. we can do that by admitting the most vulnerable refugees for resettlement and of course assist them and the countries hosting them around the world.”
To help facilitate this initiative, the website sharejourney.org offers short vignettes of the lives of migrants and refugees, giving an inside window into their struggles and their joys. In one, Catholic and Muslim families come together for a dinner to break bread together and to try to help relieve some of the anxiety and fear that Americans have about Muslims resettling in the United States. Another tells the story of how Catholic Relief Services enabled a family from war-torn Damascus to resettle in Cairo, Egypt. Still another tells the tale of a young widow, a mother of six, who escaped from Hama, Syria, for the safety of Athens, Greece.
“Before the war, Hiat lived with her family in the Syrian town of Hama,” the account reads. “Her family lived a quiet, middle-class life. Muhammad, her oldest child, went to school, did his homework and played tennis and soccer. But things for Hiat and her family began to fall apart when the war started.”
The stories share the human faces caught up in the migrant and refugee crisis currently facing the world.
In addition to the profiles, the website offers practical assistance, including educational and pastoral resources to help communities support migrants and refugees. These include prayers, activities and reflections, videos, resources on Church teaching on migration, and resources in Spanish.
The website also includes an opportunity to sign up for updates from the initiative to “learn more about our brothers and sisters who have fled their homes, and how you can support them.”
Finally, the organizers are encouraging those who are on social media to share ideas and conversation about how to be welcoming to migrants and refugees by using the hashtag #sharejourney.
“Brothers, don’t be afraid of sharing the journey. Don’t be afraid of sharing hope,” Pope Francis said in his general audience in late September. “God came into this world among the poor, to bring the good news of our salvation.”