Hospitality not hostility: reflecting on Migrant & Refugee Week
|A migrant family at a community centre run by Jesuit Social Services.|
Migrant and Refugee Week 2010 begins on Monday 23 August and culminates with the 96th World Day of Migrants and Refugees on Sunday 29 August.
The theme of this year's event is 'Minor migrants and refugees', and refers to migrants and refugees as being among the 'least' among the community of human beings.
In his annual Migrant and Refugee Week message, Pope Benedict XVI referenced the Flight into Egypt, saying "As a child, Jesus himself experienced migration for, as the Gospel recounts, in order to flee the threats of Herod, he had to seek refuge in Egypt together with Joseph and Mary.
"A particular category of minors is that of refugees seeking asylum, who, for various reasons, are fleeing their own country, where they are not given adequate protection. Statistics show that their numbers are increasing. This is therefore a phenomenon that calls for careful evaluation and coordinated action by implementing appropriate measures of prevention, protection and welcome, as set forth in the Convention on the Rights of the Child."
Director of Jesuit Refugee Service Australia, Fr Sacha Bermudez-Goldman SJ, says Migrant and Refugee Week invites Christians to reflect on the lives, challenges and contributions of people who have left their homeland and come to Australia.
"The continual arrival of migrants, and refugees in particular, gives rise to strong emotions. Some people believe that Australia already has a 'large enough' population. Others argue that this nation has been built on the shoulders of migrants, saying the fact some of us arrived here first does not mean we should exclude others," Fr Bermudez-Goldman said.
"The first view often stems from ignorance or fear of those who aren't like us - a fear that sometimes causes us to turn a blind eye to the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in the world."
Fr Bermudez-Goldman said that in its work with asylum seekers and refugees, Jesuit Refugee Service Australia is called every day to welcome and offer hospitality to people whom others might see as having nothing to offer.
"On Migrant and Refugee Sunday we might reflect on the barriers that sometimes prevent us from opening our hearts to those who come to our shores in need of protection and care," Fr Bermudez-Goldman said. "They may appear to have nothing to offer, but being hospitable to them can change our lives and lead us to the welcome that truly matters: the welcome into the hospitality of God that lasts forever."
A resource kit for the 96th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, produced by children from the St Therese School in Mascot, Sydney, can be found online at www.catholic.org.au.
To learn more about Jesuit Refugee Service, visit www.jrs.org.au
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