WASHINGTON (January 3, 2003) -- The nation's bishops have designated January 5-11 as National Migration Week, and have asked Catholics to mark the week by recognizing the gifts and talents contributed to communities by immigrants and refugees.
"The gospel challenges us to see the newcomer in the face of Jesus Christ and thus to recognize the newcomers as our brothers and sisters," said Auxiliary Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, Chairman of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Migration Committee. "Those who come to our shores seeking freedom and opportunity have always enriched our nation of immigrants. Once we set aside our fears, the gifts that the refugee and migrant bring to our nation become more apparent."
"All Come Bearing Gifts" is the theme selected for this year's NMW, highlighting the positive contributions refugees and migrants make to the parishes and communities in which they live.
"A heightened concern about national security and the downturn in our still strong economy have led once again to increased anti-immigrant sentiment among many in our nation," Bishop Wenski said. "More than ever before, we Catholics in America must remind ourselves of Jesus' words in the parable of the Last Judgment: 'I was a stranger and you welcomed me.'"
National Migration Week, now in its 24th year, was instituted by the Migration Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to raise awareness among Catholics of the plight of immigrants, refugees, and migrants. Among the activities suggested for celebrating NMW 2003 are:
- Prayer Service. National Migration Week materials mailed to every U.S. parish include suggested scripture readings and prayers as part of a prayer service that can be celebrated by parishes and schools.
- Passport to the World, an educational activity for children.
- Art Contest. Prizes will be awarded for the best original artwork interpreting some aspect of National Migration Week in three age brackets: Grades 4 and under, Grades 5-8, and Grades 9-adult. Entries must be submitted by March 7. For more information, contact NMW Art Contest, USCCB/MRS, 3211 Fourth Street NE, Washington, DC 20017.
More information is available online at: www.usccb.org/mrs/nmw.shtml