We must never forget, however, that migrants, rather than simply being a statistic, are first of all persons who have faces, names and individual stories.”  – Pope Francis

Around the world, 26.4 million refugees have fled their homes due to persecution, human rights violations, and various forms of conflict. Many children in these situtations travel alone, or are separated from their parents. In 2022, fifty-five million people were living in an internally displaced situation, and 800 migrants died along the U.S./Mexico border.

To raise awareness and encourage Catholics in the call of “Welcoming the stranger among us,” the Catholic Church in the United States annually celebrates National Migration Week. This celebration aligns with the observance of World Day of Migrants and Refugees, this year on Sept. 24. This time is set aside to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking and to engage migrants as community members, neighbors, and friends.

For National Migration Week, Sept. 18-24, Pope Francis has chosen the theme “Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay,” which shines a light on the root causes that drive migration. In announcing this year’s theme, Pope Francis said, “Eliminating these causes and thus putting an end to forced migration calls for shared commitment on the part of all, in accordance with the responsibilities of each. This commitment begins with asking what we can do, but also what we need to stop doing. We need to make every effort to halt the arms race, economic colonialism, the plundering of other people’s resources, and the devastation of our common home.”

Read the USCCB statement: National Migration Week Highlights “Overlooked Right” Not to Migrate

How can I get involved?

Monday, Sept. 18 | Noon
Online rosary for migrants and refugees, prayed in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese on the diocesan Watch and pray on Facebook

Lunes, 18 de sept. | 12 p.m.
Rosario en inglés, español, y vietnamita en Facebook (@GRDiocese)

Wednesday, Sept. 20 | 7- 8:30 p.m.
A night of prayer, reflection, and action with Father Alejandro Solalinde, founder of “Hermanos en el camino;” a panel who  shared their migrant experience, and a reflection from Bishop Walkowiak.
Cathedral Square Center | 360 Division Ave. S. | Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Miércoles, 20 de sept. | 7 – 8:30 p.m.
Semana Nacional de la Migración 2023
Una Noche de Oración, Reflexión y Acción

Invitados Especiales:
Reverendísimo Obispo David J. Walkowiak
Padre Alejandro Solalinde, fundador de albergue “Hermanos en el camino”
Panel de presentadores que hablaran sobre sus experiencias migratorias

Centro Pastoral Diocesano
360 Division Ave. S., Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Opportunities to encounter and accompany include:

Learn more about: Caring for Migrants and Refugees

Additional resources:

Immigration Legal Services in the Diocese of Grand Rapids (en Español)
From the Bishop: The borders we don’t see (November 2019 FAITH Grand Rapids magazine)
Welcoming the stranger among us (November 2019 FAITH Grand Rapids magazine)
Movie discussion guide: The Sound of Freedom (Justice for Immigrants)

From the USCCB:
View/download the: National Migration Week Toolkit (English | Español) from the USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants website
Catholic ministries serving migrants and refugees
Migration and Refugee Services
Updates about: The war in Ukraine | Operation Allies Welcome and displaced Afghans

From the Vatican-Pope Francis:
Pope Francis’ World Day of Migrants & Refugees message, September 2023 (English | Español)
Watch a video on this year’s theme (Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development)
Migrants and Refugees | Resources to download and share (Holy See)

Prayer and Reflection:
Holy Family, Refugee Family (CRS)
Prayers for immigrants and refugees (USCCB)
A prayer for immigrant children (Justice for Immigrants)