By Abraham Joven
One of the beautiful things about the Catholic faith is our belief in the Mystical Body; that is, knowing that we are all intimately connected and, in many ways, dependent on each other as a people. Knowing that if one part of us is ailing, much like our own physical bodies, we all share in and feel that pain.
As a people, though, we aren’t always adept at putting this aspect of our faith into practice. We give into the baser parts of out nature and fall into sectarian squabbles or into the dynamic of Us vs. Them.
It is a rejection of this impulse – a challenge for us to lean into our better side – that is at the heart of National Migration Week 2021’s theme: “Towards an Ever Wider We.”
National Migration Week, held this year from Sept. 20-26, is an opportunity for the greater body of the Church to recognize that we are all part of the same family: co-heirs in Christ’s promise of salvation. Across the nation, parishes and dioceses will be hosting events that help showcase how migrants and migration have positively impacted, and continue to positively impact, our own communities and lives.
Here in the Diocese of San Bernardino, we will be highlighting the stories of migration within our diocese with a video series called “We Are Home.” This series will allow people doing ministry work within our parishes and diocese the opportunity to share the story of how they or their family migrated to the U.S. and found home and welcome within the Diocese of San Bernardino.
We will also assist, as we always do, with promoting the annual Southern California Regional Mass in Recognition for All Immigrants, which will be held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles, on Sept. 19 at 3:30 p.m. (The Diocese’s annual Mass for Migrants is always held in January, with next year’s event taking place on Jan. 16.)
Along with recognizing the presence and vitality of our local migrant/immigrant community, we also take this time to roll up our sleeves and help to ensure those communities are protected and treated with dignity.
One way we can do that this year is to take up the call from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Justice for Immigrants Campaign by contacting your local congressperson and senator and asking them to 1) provide a legal pathway to citizenship to Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders by passing the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6); and 2) creating a program to regularize the status of undocumented farm and essential workers by passing the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 1603). These actions can be done with a few short strokes of the keyboard by visiting justiceforimmigrants.org and clicking on “Action Alerts.”
Finally, we remember that the Church in America was brought here from elsewhere; that our own history is one that starts many, many miles from here, in a humble stable in Bethlehem. May we recognize the risen Christ in the immigrant and the refugee and always strive to uphold their dignity.
Abraham Joven is the Office of Life, Dignity & Justice’s Director of Advocacy.