How to Support Migrants and Refugees

The Lord calls on us to create a welcoming community for everyone. Here are some concrete ways we might act to show we love our neighbor.

  • PRAY
    • Host a community-wide prayer service for migrants and refugees.
      Invite people to participate in communal prayer like a prayer vigil, rosary, posadas, Holy Hour, or Stations of the Cross for the intention of migrants and refugees.
    • Incorporate a walk as part of a communal prayer to symbolize migrants and refugees on the move, with whom we share this earthly pilgrimage. See how one diocese engaged Catholics in prayer for migrants.
    • Participate in and invite others to join the U.S. bishops’ annual 9 Days for Life campaign, taking place Thursday, January 18 — Friday, January 26, 2018. This period of prayer and action addresses a broad spectrum of topics relating to human dignity with a different focus each day. One of the days will focus on migrants and refugees. Use the opportunity build bridges with friends, family, and others in your community who may share your passion for respecting human dignity and caring for those who are vulnerable, but aren’t as aware of the plight of migrants and refugees.
  • ENCOUNTER / REACH OUT
    • Provide opportunities for people to get to know migrants and refugees.
      • Host a potluck gathering including members from your community and recent migrants and refugees. Implement some strategic ways for people to meet and get to know one another. For example, encourage people to sit with someone they don’t know, and provide conversation-starter questions on index cards.
      • Organize a speaking event or school assembly in your community. Contact your local Catholic Charities, CLINIC affiliate or diocesan pastoral office that serves migrants and refugees to identify people who would be comfortable meeting and sharing their stories.
      • If you can’t arrange an in-person gathering, encourage members of your community to get to know migrants and refugees by reading their stories.
      • As new families arrive at Mass, ask greeters or even designate a couple of “family welcome teams” to greet them.
    • Offer a public sign that your community is in solidarity with migrants and refugees.
      • Consider a symbolic gesture to help create awareness, such as pitching a tent on the parish lawn with a sign about standing in solidarity during the week of prayer and action.
      • Display posters or pictures in a gathering space with stories and ways to help.
    • Support immigrant businesses.
      • Identify and support immigrant-owned businesses locally and beyond. Use immigrant-owned restaurants to cater events. Promote their contributions within and outside your community.

    For more ways to help, check out Discerning How to Welcome Your Neighbor.

  • LEARN
    • Encourage education.
      Invite your community to learn about migration, especially through classes and groups that are already meeting in your community throughout the week. Encourage spending some time learning about why people leave their home countries, common myths surrounding migrants and refugees, and what the Church teaches about it.
    • Help people put themselves in our brothers’ and sisters’ shoes.
      Hold a simulation experience that helps people explore why migrants and refugees feel forced to leave their homes using this exercise from CRS, a guide from the Catholic Charities of Louisville, or the Refugees Seeking Safety tool from Cabrini University.
    • Invite people to learn and share their own stories.
      Host a potluck “cultural night” for members of your community, including recent migrants and refugees. Sign people up in advance who can share something of their cultural heritage (food, music, dance, art, etc.), whether by presenting, teaching, and/or involving other attendees. For those who may not be very familiar with their family history, encourage them to do some research and sign up to be one of those to share what they’ve learned. By learning about the heritage of our own families, as well as that of others in the community — both long-established and new residents — we can better relate to the experience of being a newcomer and to appreciate the experiences of those whose backgrounds differ from ours.
    • Assess how welcoming your community currently is.
      Use this quiz as a checklist of goals that will make your community more welcoming towards migrants and refugees.
    • Learn about racism and work for racial justice.
    • Facilitate a USCCB training on Building Intercultural Competence for Minister (BICM) through the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers to empower seminarians, religious and lay leaders to serve migrants and refugees in the United States.

     

  • ACCOMPANY / DIRECT SERVICE
    • Organize local community service.
      • Contact your local Catholic Charities, CLINIC affiliate or another local agency serving migrants or refugees to help determine the needs. Then, organize a day of service or a collection of the necessary items.
      • Assistance is often needed in tutoring, language skills development, shelter, basic resource allocation, legal services, job training, transportation, and companionship. Even children can serve by collecting items or designing welcome cards for migrants and refugee families who are arriving in your community.
      • If not already involved, your parish can also become part of the local Parishes Organized to Welcome Refugees Program to organize an ongoing program of welcome and support for newly arriving refugees. Contact USCCB Migration and Refugees for more information at MRS@usccb.org.
      • Purchase Share the Journey fair trade organic cotton socks and stand up for your neighbors around the world. You’ll be supporting fair wages and safe working conditions for workers so they can thrive where they live. Twenty percent of sock sales go to CRS’ work with refugees and migrants worldwide.

    To Learn More:

    How can we assist Immigrants and refugees (English and Spanish) (JFI)

     

    10 Things You Can DO to Accompany Undocumented Immigrants (JFI)

  • ADVOCATE
    • Your voice is needed. Please participate in the Call-in Day to Congress on Monday, February 26, 2018! Your advocacy is critical to help the nearly 1.8 million Dreamers, young people who were brought into the United States by their parents as children. They may face deportation as soon as March 6, unless Congress reaches a bi-partisan deal to protect them. Here’s why we’re advocating for Dreamers.
    • Take Action Now. Protect funding for refugees, migrants, internally displaced persons and asylum seekers.  Support Dreamers by passing the Dream Act (H.R. 3440/ S. 1615)
    • Spread awareness about the campaign online by using the hashtag #sharejourney.
    • Showcase stories and pictures in newsletters and on bulletin boards from migrants and refugees who live both around the world and in the United States.
    • Rally your community to contact your elected officials.
      • Join an organization in your community that is advocating for and with immigrants. Check out action alerts about national and global legislation concerning refugees and immigrants from Catholic Charities USA, Justice for Immigrants (USCCB) and Catholics Confront Global Poverty (from the USCCB and CRS).
      • Create personalized postcards or letters for people to sign during the week of prayer and action. Schedule a meeting with the offices of your Congressional members in advance of the week of prayer and action and hand deliver these letters or postcards at the meeting. Here are some tips for how to get started.

How Can I Help?

Give to the US

Support migrants and refugees in the United States by giving to CCUSA.

Give Overseas

Reach out to migrants and refugees abroad by giving to Catholic Relief Services.

Share the Love

Use social media to inspire others to love our neighbors everywhere.

Your neighbors live across the street and the country, across oceans and hemispheres. As millions of God’s children flee war, persecution and poverty, Pope Francis, Caritas Internationalis, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, and Catholic Relief Services invite you to share their journey by walking with them in prayer and support.

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