‘It’s not just about migrants, it’s also about us’

ANDREW HAMILTON SJ reflects on the importance to demonstrate compassion and humanity towards people seeking asylum during Migrant and Refugee Week 2019

Migrant and Refugee Week will be celebrated between 19th – 25th August 2019 in Australia. The theme of the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees this year cuts deep:  it’s not just about migrants, people seeking asylum and refugees. It’s also about us, Pope Francis says. 

It’s about us because refugees need us to keep listening to them, visiting them, pleading for them. It takes a big heart to keep looking at the television screen and listening to hard stories when they are about desperate women and children dying on boats or turned away at borders.

Not to turn away, when you are helpless to alleviate a child’s suffering, whether it is your own child or a stranger’s child, takes a lot of love. It is easier to turn away in helplessness, fear or shame.And we become the less for it.

To serve refugees we need to attend to ourselves and overcome our fears. The best way of seeking healing for ourselves, of course, is to go out to those seeking asylum in small ways, letting them touch our hearts and awakening our compassion.  It follows that Refugee Week is not just about ourselves, it is about people seeking protection and safety. It is about building relationships with people different from ourselves and finding joy in those relationships.

Migrant and Refugee Sunday encourages us to hold refugees in our hearts, to keep them in our prayers, to visit them in their houses and in detention centres, to allow them to touch us so that we are grateful for knowing them.  It is about being big hearted, inspired by the largeness of heart that we find in others.

The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) invites everyone to the Annual Mass of All Nations on Migrants and Refugees on Sunday 25th August at St Patrick’s Cathedral for a Rosary at 2.00PM and Mass at 3.00PM. Click here for more information.

Schools, parishes, networks and organisations are invited to join together to pray and express strong compassion for everyone seeking asylum in Australia. More information regarding the Annual Mass of All Nations on Migrants and Refugees Day can be found here.

ACMRO has also released a kit that includes a message from Pope Francis for the World Day of Migrants, a message from the Bishop Max L. Davis AM DD and Bishops’ Delegate for Migrants and Refugees than can be accessed here, suggested prayers, reflections and more stories. You can download the kit here.

Together WE CAN make a difference.