On Feast of the Holy Family, Jesuit Parishes Urged to Respond to Plight of Refugee Families

December 30, 2016 — Today on the Feast of the Holy Family, Jesuit leaders are asking their parish communities to consider how they can best respond to the plight of migrants, who often live in vulnerable situations, fearing separation, detention, deportation and limited participation in their communities.

In a message scheduled to appear in Jesuit parish bulletins this weekend, the nine Jesuit provincials of the U.S. and Canada write that Jesuit parishes have “always been a home to the immigrant and the foreigner. Many of our churches were built to care for immigrants, and they remain one of the few Jesuit ministries that serve the public on a daily basis.”

The Gospel readings for the day describe a homeless refugee family with a newborn baby fleeing persecution and traveling to a foreign land. It’s a familiar story, one that’s re-enacted each and every day.

When Pope Francis blessed the crèche in St. Peter’s Square in early December, he drew a parallel between the most famous refugee family and their modern-day counterparts. “In the painful experience of these brothers and sisters, we revisit that experience of the baby Jesus, who at the time of his birth did not find accommodation and was born in a grotto in Bethlehem and then was brought to Egypt to escape Herod’s threat.”

At every opportunity, Pope Francis reminds us that all families are holy in God’s eyes. In their statement, the Jesuit provincials urge parish communities to “take Pope Francis’ message to heart and discern how they can best respond to the plight of migrants, remembering that love must be shown in deeds and in words.”

The message from the Jesuits also suggests ways of helping families who live in the shadows. “There is so much good that a parish can do for the most vulnerable in our communities — from sponsoring refugee families to lifting our voices in the public square, calling for greater protections for our brothers and sisters who are suffering. As a family united in Christ, please remember refugees and migrants in your prayers and pray that we grow in our awareness of the issue of migration.”

“In this Christmas season where we continue to contemplate the mystery of the incarnation, let us never stop looking for the face of Christ, particularly in the faces of the poor and alienated.”

To read the entire message, click here.

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