WASHINGTON (November 27, 2002) -- A better appreciation for ethnic and racial diversity and a greater capacity for welcoming immigrants and refugees into Catholic communities are goals of the fifth regional "unity in diversity" training scheduled for December 4-6 in Memphis.
The seven regional trainings in total are intended to help dioceses understand and implement the message of the pastoral statement Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity, approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in November 2000. Participants at the meeting in Memphis, will include 3 bishops and 140 other representatives from 19 dioceses in the southeastern region of the United States.
"With their pastoral statement, the bishops challenged U. S. Catholics to find unity in the diversity of languages, cultures, and forms of worship shared by new immigrants," said Father Anthony McGuire, Director of the Office for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees (PCMR). "The seven regional trainings organized by PCMR are intended to give life to their statement and offer strategies for implementing it in dioceses and parishes."
PCMR, a unit of the USCCB's Migration and Refugee Services, was charged by the Bishops' Migration Committee with organizing the trainings.
A keynote presentation on the bishops' statement will open the training on the evening of December 4. A series of plenary sessions, panel discussions and small workshops the following day will focus on diocesan and parish structures for fostering a welcoming atmosphere, best practices, advocacy on behalf of immigrants and refugees, and building bridges between ethnic and national communities. The meeting concludes Friday morning.
"We are hopeful that those bishops and diocesan staff who attend these trainings will take back with them both the enthusiasm and the tools necessary to build more open and welcoming parishes and communities," said Mark Franken, Executive Director of USCCB's Migration and Refugee Services. "The Gospel commands us to welcome the stranger among us. We believe these trainings are an important step toward enhancing the Church's fulfillment of that command."