The Bishops’ Council for Immigrants in Ireland (Irish Episcopal Council for Immigrants/IECI) produced a resource pack for parishes to use on World Day of Migrants and Refugees (Sunday 17 January 2016).
Bishop John Buckley introduced the pack:
Immigration is a phenomenon which is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Today millions are displaced by war hunger and oppression. We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life around the Mediterranean as desperate migrants attempt to enter the EU. They are in search of a better life. Some will be coming to this country and they are hoping that Ireland will be a place where they are safe and can begin the process of rebuilding their lives. It is important that the local church be at the forefront of efforts to welcome them.
He recalled a “key phrase” from Jesus in chapter 5 of Matthew’s gospel – “I was a stranger and you took me in” – and Deuteronomy’s command to welcome the stranger: “you shall love the stranger for you are strangers in Egypt”.
We Irish have much to learn from this. The Lord could well say to us: Remember you too were treated harshly abroad, building London’s underground, the mines of Yorkshire, in the docks of Boston or in the new cities of Sydney and Perth. Saint Patrick himself was a refugee, a slave, someone who was trafficked for profit. Pope Francis said that the city, the town, the village that does not welcome the stranger has forgotten to care for itself.
Sunday is therefore an occasion to heighten the awareness of the current phenomenon of immigration and the challenges facing migrants coming to our country. Obviously we respect the rights of the State to devise procedures to address the situation. It is an occasion also to pray for all who are experiencing great suffering, remembering especially, the persecuted Christians of the Middle East and Africa.
The parish pack contains
- A message from Pope Francis for the 102nd World Day of Migrants and Refugees
- Asylum statistics for the EU and Ireland
- A homily outline
- Parish actions and reflections to aid parish groups explore the issues of migration
Almighty and merciful God,
Whose Son became a refugee
And had no place to call his own.
Look with mercy on those who today
Are fleeing from danger,
Homeless and hungry.
Bless those who work to bring them relief;
Inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts;
And guide the nations of Europe towards that day
When all will rejoice in your Kingdom of justice and peace.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.