Day of Prayer for Refugees and Migrants: June 19, 2022

WelCom June/July 2022 This year, the Catholic Bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand have marked Sunday, June 19 as the Day of Prayer for Refugees and Migrants. The bishops align the…

WelCom June/July 2022

Day of Prayer for Refugees and Migrants: June 19, 2022 Archdiocese of Wellington
Pope Francis with some young migrants and refugees. Photo: Vatican Media

This year, the Catholic Bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand have marked Sunday, June 19 as the Day of Prayer for Refugees and Migrants.

The bishops align the annual prayer day to the closest Sunday to June 20, – World Refugee Day. Countries in the northern hemisphere utilise a date in September for the Day of Prayer. 

Pope Francis says we should be fostering relationships and welcoming all with open arms. We should no longer think in terms of ‘us and them’, but rather as ‘we’, celebrating connections rather than concentrating on differences. ‘We are one human family’.

Caritas Engagement Manager Roger Ellis says, ‘In these times of division, war and a global pandemic we need to be reminded of the fellowship of the human family. We all need the balm of peace and to bring a unifying and healing presence to those around us. Let us foster authentic intercultural dialogue, to grow as a Church and to enrich each other.’

Caritas will be providing background information for parishes and schools in support of the Day of Prayer for Refugees and Migrants. Resources including Liturgy suggestions; information, a Message from Pope Francis, and an action guide will be sent to parishes in early June. The resources will also be available for download from Caritas’ website: caritas.org.nz

The date June 19 is also the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which calls us to focus on two manifestations of the Body of Christ – the Holy Eucharist and the Church. ‘While primary focus is on the Eucharist, we are also reminded our worship of Jesus in His Body and Blood calls us to offer to God our Father a pledge of undivided love and an offering of ourselves to the service of others,’ Roger Ellis says.

‘The Holy Spirit enables us to embrace everyone, to build communion in diversity, to unify differences without imposing a depersonalised uniformity. In encountering the diversity of foreigners, migrants and refugees, and in the intercultural dialogue that can emerge from this encounter, we have an opportunity to grow as Church and to enrich one another.’ – Pope Francis Message, 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

Millions of people have fled from Ukraine. They had their homes destroyed, and many have lost loved ones, killed in the conflict. How refugees and migrants are treated by those in their new communities greatly impacts their resettlement process, and how quickly they feel safe and at home. ‘More than just being passive receivers of refugees and migrants, we should be actively working to welcome and embrace everyone, reaching out as a Church, and creating the wider ‘we’,’ Roger says.

Pope Francis reminds us, ‘We must make every effort to break down the walls that separate us and, in acknowledging our profound interconnection, build bridges that foster a culture of encounter. Today’s migration movements offer an opportunity for us to overcome our fears and let ourselves be enriched by the diversity of each person’s gifts. Then, if we so desire, we can transform borders into privileged places of encounter, where the miracle of an ever wider “we” can come about.’ – Pope Francis Message for 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

On Sunday, June 19, Caritas invites everyone, ‘to join in prayer for our sisters and brothers who are refugees and migrants’.