Tag Archive for: refugees

About 60 million people around the globe have been forced to leave their homes to escape war, violence and persecution.

Our Lady of Guadalupe has become an eminent image throughout Latin America and even North America and is often seen as an advocate for migrants and vulnerable populations across the Americas.

Framed in Catholic Social Teaching and documents of the U.S. bishops, this resource provides a variety of suggestions on how to support and stand with Immigrants, Migrants, Refugees And People On The Move.

What does the Bible say about helping refugees, migrants and foreigners? Fr. James Martin, S.J., explains that it’s pretty clear.

Catholic leaders, including Cardinal Peter Turkson and Archbishop José Gomez, reflect on Church teaching related to welcoming refugees.

While it is impossible to fully comprehend what it is like to be forced from your home and live as a refugee, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA invites you to host a Walk a Mile in My Shoes simulation, which provides individuals and communities with an opportunity to pause and experience, if only vicariously and for a few moments, the frustrations, disappointments and hopes that refugees around the world face. 

“Looking Beyond Borders” provides students at both the high school and elementary level an opportunity learn about the reality of life for people who are displaced, refugees, or migrants.


Unbelievably, my daughter has been on this earth for twenty-two months, inexplicably already closer to being two whole years old than to that tiny infant who came home from the hospital on a cool, rainy early summer day. One of her qualities that has emerged in that time is empathy: she is acutely attuned to other children in restaurants, at the park, in the airport terminal who are upset and crying. Verbal from an early age, she acknowledges them and often is not able to continue with whatever activity we have been doing until we can assuage her concerns, for example, by pointing out the child’s parents or rationalizing that the child is crying because she may be tired or hungry.

Though this empathy seems organic to her being, it is a quality that fits with the values that my husband and I have sought to teach her, or those that we hope we are modeling for her in our daily lives for her to learn in time. I have little doubt that the election and the events that have followed since November of last year would have sat heavy with me no matter my stage in life. Yet experiencing it as a parent has stung even deeper – not only as an endorsement of so many values and qualities that are the antithesis to my beliefs and work for justice – but as an antithesis to the values and morals I hope to instill in my daughter.  

As I struggled with how to react, it ultimately was my role as a parent that first pulled me up and forced me to be hopeful when at times I did not feel much hope. It started out as a simple affirmative response to a post in an online neighborhood mom’s group by another mom seeking others who were interested in becoming sponsors for a refugee family. We were matched with a Syrian couple with a toddler, a family composition that mirrored many of ours. Over the course of barely a few months, we worked to collect monetary donations; fully furnish an apartment; commit to a schedule of weekly mentoring visits to provide support once they arrived; and, as it got closer to the date in late January, stock the family’s kitchen in anticipation of their arrival.

But then on January 27, the family’s travel plans to arrive in Chicago just three days later were halted by the executive order suspending the U.S. refugee resettlement program. Instead of welcoming the “strangers” we had been preparing for, the apartment remained empty while the family remained in limbo. Due to the reach of social media, the family’s story quickly spread, most notably through a post by our group’s leader reproaching the executive order accompanied by a photo of an empty crib and stuffed bunny intended for the toddler in the family. It was that image of the empty crib that resonated with so many; for me, there was no way of not thinking of my own daughter, who slept warm and safe in a crib just like that one.  Nationality and circumstances seemed the only difference between my family and the refugee family we were cosponsoring.

The photo that accompanied a Facebook post by the leader of Lincoln Square Moms reproaching the executive order, which caught national attention. Photo credit: Rachel Zahorsky Thompson

Through the hard work of many and the grace of the TROs, the family arrived a little over a week later to the embrace of their extended family, to cheers – and some tears – from the resettlement organization and our co-sponsorship group (and also to the flashes and crush of media who had been following their journey). Since then, our group has had the privilege of not just assisting them with settling in the Chicago area, but spending time with and getting to know them and their extended family, as well as learning more about Syrian culture. Our visits often center around playdates between the family’s toddler and our own children.

Members of Lincoln Square Moms – and the infamous bunny – welcome a Syrian refugee family at O’Hare Airport on February 7, 2017. Photo credit: Marketa Lindt, a member of the pro bono counsel team for the family.

Each year, the season of Lent causes me to pause, to take stock of where I am at that time and, often, to look for guidance on what in my life may need some tweaking in preparation for Easter.  I did not come across it until halfway through the season, but this year, guidance came in the form of Pope Francis’ reflection on the story of Lazarus: it is a reminder for me to continue to take a cue from my daughter’s concern for the crying child at the park.  He writes, simply, that “[o]ther persons are a gift. A right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognizing their value. … Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect, and love.” Every person has value, no matter their background or circumstances.

Thankfully, my daughter – like many of the children of the other members of our co-sponsorship group – is too young to understand the current political climate or that anything has significantly changed about the world since November 8. Despite that fact, the very reason I felt a pull to join my neighbors in sponsoring a refugee family was to set an example of love, kindness, and inclusivity for her. Welcoming immigrants and refugees and seeing others we meet as a gift is precisely what I hope to instill in her already empathetic being. Especially in the last month, there has been post after post in various online parent groups to which I belong expressing horror and sadness at the images coming out of Syria, but unsure how to respond. It is achingly clear that Pope Francis’ message must permeate our actions far after Lent is over this year, and that our response must start with acceptance, respect, and love.

For an update on the family and hope for the Easter season, visit: Syrian refugee family finding its way in Chicago: ‘I’m trying to smile the way people smile here’

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published as part of the Ignatian Solidarity Network Just Parenting series.

BY FR. TIMOTHY MCCABE, SJ February 3, 2017

The following is Fr. Timothy McCabe’s homily from January 29, 2017 at Sts. Peter and Paul Jesuit Church in downtown Detroit, MI.

“Jesus saw the crowds,” our gospel begins today.  He saw the crowds and he began to preach.

There has been a lot of talk about crowds these days: sizes of crowds, crowds participating in the Women’s march in every major city in the United States; 137 crowds gathering in 40 different countries worldwide; crowds that marched for the Right to Life; spontaneous crowds gathered last night and today in front of JFK airport in New York and O’Hare in Chicago, and San Francisco, and Cleveland and Seattle and here in Detroit; crowds gathering in response to the executive order that has lead to the banning and detaining of refugees hoping for safe haven in our country.

Protester at Detroit Metro Airport on January 28. 2017 [Mary Anthony]

Jesus saw the crowds and he began to teach.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: those were been beaten down, those whose spirits have been broken by oppression and violence and are seeking refuge foreign lands. Blessed are those who mourn, those were forced to flee death and violence, those who have lost family and friends to the brutality of armed conflict.  Blessed are we who mourn when our country’s leaders turned their back on social justice, and diplomacy, and decency in the name of nationalism. Blessed are the meek, those without power, those without voice, those whose lives and futures are determined by others, by the absence of presence of compassion and kindness of other nations. Blessed are those who hunger for righteousness, hunger for justice. Those who understand God’s justice and how it is being thwarted by the powers and principalities in our world that act in defiance of God’s law.

Blessed are all these because God hears the cry poor.  God is here. God is with them. God is with us.

Blessed are the merciful, those who act in tandem with God’s will, those who magnify the love and compassion of God and express that to the poor, to the mourning, to the meek, and those who hunger for justice.   Blessed are the pure of heart, those who do not allow the hatred of others, the racism and sexism and homophobia of others to dictate how they see and act in the world. Blessed are the peacemakers: those who work for justice, for right relationships between God and humanity and between all human beings. Those who see that the kingdom of God is at hand, and do not put their trust in walls and weapons and the oppression of others–especially the most vulnerable–to keep themselves safe. Those who know way of peace, true peace, true shalom—will only be brought about by love.

Sermone della Montagna (Sermon on the Mount) by Cosimo Rosselli (1439-1507)

While the prophet Zephaniah and St. Paul in today’s first two readings—may well be speaking and writing to crowds—they are not speaking about crowds. They are speaking about the remnant: the few who hear the word of God and act accordingly.  For Zephaniah, personal experience shows him–like the other prophets before him that those who will act in accordance to God’s commands are not a large numbers of people.  The majority do not listen to the prophets. And as Paul experienced the people follow God’s mandates are not the people he expected. It is rather the foolish the powerless, those who understand humanities dependence upon God, our dependency on God.

So why the poor? Why do they get? Perhaps it is because the more we trust in our own self-reliance, whether it’s our own will, or trusting in weapons of war, or executive orders of exclusion, the more we fall under the hypnotic delusion that we actually are in control.  We lose our sense of dependency upon God. We stopped discerning God’s word and God’s will. As the prophets warned us over and over again: when we move away from direct personal relationship with our creator, when we attempt to protect our citizens in ways that defy the law of God, we are subject to his judgment.  Jesus was clear: “What you do to the least of these, you do to me.”

Pope Francis greets refugees in Italy [Jesuit Refugee Service]

Pope Francis has been very clear in the past few days what it means to be Christians.

The sickness or, you can say the sin, that Jesus condemns most is hypocrisy, which is precisely what is happening when someone claims to be a Christian but does not live according to the teaching of Christ. You cannot be a Christian without living like a Christian. You cannot be a Christian without practicing the Beatitudes.  It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help,”

And here is Cardinal Joe Tobin statement from yesterday:

Wednesday’s Executive Actions do not show the United States to be an open and welcoming nation.  They are the opposite of what it means to be an American.  Closing borders and building walls are not rational acts.  Mass detentions and wholesale deportation benefit no one; such inhuman policies destroy families and communities. In fact, threatening the so-called “sanctuary cities” with the withdrawal of federal funding for vital services such as healthcare, education and transportation will not reduce immigration.  It only will harm all good people in those communities. 

And yesterday our Archbishop wrote to the chair of the Imams Council of Michigan to express his support for immigrants and refugees, no matter their religion or country of origin and his opposition to discrimination on the basis of religion.

It happens every so often—since the beginning of the Jesus movement 2000 years ago—that his followers are called upon to be in communion with God and neighbor in a new way. Called upon to be the moral voice of our time. Called upon to be bold and courageous with their words and actions in defending the rights of the poor and vulnerable, outcast and the stranger among us. Called upon to proclaim a revolution of moral values that will be so threatening to the existing social system of domination that persecution will follow.

This call to the Christian community comes during perilous times: times when such a proclamation will have a cost. I believe we now live in such a time.

The question becomes for us is this: will we be part of the remnant: those who act and think according to the values and mission of Jesus Christ? Will we stand in and for the Kingdom of God proclaimed by Jesus? If we live these beatitudes with boldness, if we do as he commands regardless of the cost, we are assured but His presence and blessing. We can even be joyful in glad when we face persecution and people utter all kinds of evil against us because we will be in good company, Jesus promises us a great reward.

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published as part of the Ignatian Solidarity Network Voices for Justice blog series.