WASHINGTON, D.C. — Franciscans throughout the country are being encouraged to participate in National Migration Week, which takes place early next year, Jan. 4 to 10.
The event theme, sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), is the same as last July’s event, “Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice.”
“Our support for National Migration Week is especially important since we reaffirmed at our Chapter this past summer that we foster Christian discipleship by collaborating with those whom we serve and by standing in solidarity with all people, especially the alienated, the immigrant, and the poor,” said Jud Weiksnar, co-chair of the Province’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Directorate.
The USCCB has an aggressive promotion of the event under way, according to Todd Scribner of the Office of Media Relations. “We plan to post bulletin inserts online as downloadable pdf files. People will also have the opportunity to order bulletin inserts in packages of 100, for $5 apiece. The rosaries will also be available online and can be ordered in packages of 25, for $5 a packet.
The event Web site includes materials to download, along with prayers for migrants, parish resources, bishops statements, Catholic social teaching on migration, and other information.
Other Franciscan provinces are following the aggressive promotion plan, distributing event information to friars, according to copies of newsletters sent to Holy Name Province by Sacred Heart Province in St. Louis/Chicago and from the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph in Milwaukee, Wis.
“As many of you may be aware, this is the same theme that we used for the National Migration Conference held this past July,” said Scribner. “I plan to use this same theme for the next five years, until the next migration conference. Using the same theme in the coming years will provide continuity to some of our activities and, it is hoped, help in the creation of a brand that we can exploit to further our message.”
The Sacred Heart’s information, distributed by Benet Fonck, OFM, the province’s communications coordinator, takes an interesting approach, helping dispel immigration myths.
Each issue lists a “perceived myth” about immigrants and provides a “known fact” for clarification.
The Oct. 10 issue of Weekly Recap, the newsletter of the Province of St. Joseph, included an article titled, “Friars Join Prayer Vigil to Protest Raids.”
The article said: “Immigration raids on workplaces and their destructive fallout were the focus of a press conference sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in early September. The bishops and other immigrant advocates have felt increasing concern at the rising number of raids since the failure of comprehensive immigration reform in the summer of 2007, a reform that George W. Bush once favored.
The conference also underscored the fact that the bishops have been trying to work with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to curtail the raids because of the humanitarian damage they cause. With immigration reform on hold, I.C.E. officials have come down hard on illegal workers – though not their employers. Last year, I.C.E. made 5,000 workplace arrests of illegal immigrants, ten times the number in 2005.”
In early October, friars and other immigrant advocates from the Capuchin province, gathered in Milwaukee and held a prayer vigil to protest the raids.
For more information or materials, contact Scribner, TScribner@usccb.org, 202-541-3208.