Since 1914, The Catholic Church has been celebrating the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. This day is an occasion to highlight concern for people, vulnerable and on the move; to pray for them as they face many challenges; and to increase awareness about opportunities migration offers. The World Day of Migrants and Refugees is this Sunday, September 26, 2021.
The message of Pope Francis on this 107th Day of Migrants and Refugees is entitled “Towards an Ever Wider We.” In his message, we are challenged to see “that we are all in the same boat and called to work together so that there will be no more walls that separate us, no longer others, but only a single ‘we’, encompassing all humanity.” We are invited to embrace and recognize our
broken and fragmented relationships. We are called to reclaim a deep commitment to one another. We are asked to sacrifice—to let go of an individualized “feverish consumerism and new forms of egotistic self-preservation” that can pull us through life.
On September 26, 2021 we have a unique opportunity to live this “ever wider we” in our community.
In mid September, there were about 12,500 Afghan refugees staying at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. Flown in suddenly, with the collapse of the Afghan government and the departure of U.S. support, families were brought to Fort McCoy with nothing but what they were wearing and what they could carry over thousands of miles of movement. Local news reports that life at Fort McCoy is challenging, with food and clothing shortages and overcrowding. On top of this, people are experiencing deep grief and fear. Their individual bodies have been transported. But extended family and all remnants of their life in Afghanistan were left behind.
Since 2015, The Basilica has had a partnership with Lutheran Social Services Refugee Services, co-sponsoring twelve families from around the world who received refugee status. With the support of LSS, we have accompanied families, offering Circle of Welcome Teams that walk with them as they make Minnesota their home.
This September, The Basilica is being invited to co-sponsor Afghan families through LSS. The people who have come from Afghanistan have risked their lives to support the mission of the United States. Now, we are being asked to extend a warm welcome and to keep them safe.
With a strong commitment to “an ever wider we” and a strong infrastructure of our Basilica Immigrant Support Ministry, The Basilica was able to quickly mobilize and commit to co-sponsoring up to four families from Afghanistan. More opportunities may follow.
Pope Francis states, “Today’s migration movements offer an opportunity for us to overcome fears and let ourselves be enriched by the diversity of each person’s gifts. Then, if we so desire, we can transform borders into privileged places of encounter, where the miracle of an ever wider ‘we’ can come about.” May we gracefully embrace this opportunity to grow towards a wider “we.”