During a mass on September 26 marking the 107e World Migrant and Refugee Day, Washington Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ‘Migration Committee, urged people to heed Pope Francis’ urge to “move on. from indifference to solidarity ”.
“Countries have a moral obligation to open doors to those who might be richer in dreams and expectations,” said Bishop Dorsonville, the main celebrant and homily for Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. Apostle in Washington, DC
Recently, the USCCB’s commemoration of National Migration Week was moved to September to tie this in with the Church’s annual celebration of World Migrant and Refugee Day.
The bishop briefly described the treatment last week of Haitians and other migrants arriving at the US border in Texas in conditions of excessive heat and lack of food, water and shelter as “shameful” and ” painful ”. Photos showed border patrol officers on horseback confronting some of the refugees.
“We must respect the human dignity of the person,” he said. “The human person is the image of God.
In addition, “there are 80 million people in the world – they are refugees, they are migrants,” Bishop Dorsonville said, “and many of them are victims of human trafficking.” He added that many are not treated like human beings but like animals, “and that is bad for today’s society.”
Developing Pope Francis’ theme for this year, “towards an ever wider ‘us’,” Bishop Dorsonville noted that the faithful are called to love others as much as their own families. “Love the stranger. Let us love the immigrant, the undocumented, the one who is unfortunately faceless and speechless – because they are the home of Jesus Christ.
Bishop Dorsonville urged acceptance, prayer and advocacy – becoming the voice of those without one – as a solution to ending polarization in a shattered world.
“We are meant to be a ‘larger us’… something that calls us together as a Church, to walk together and also to make covenants with other churches, with other denominations because the problem no. he is not just a country, these 80 million come from all over the world and in developed societies.
Earlier in a September 20 press release for National Migration Week, Bishop Dorsonville noted that “the story of migration is a story of compassion, welcome and unity. It’s about opening our hearts to others, and at this critical stage we don’t have to look far to see its practical application or find those who need to migrate.
“The Holy Father calls us to embrace and express the catholicity of the Church – her universality -” according to the will and the grace of the Lord who has promised to be always with us, until the end of time “. Let us unite, the Catholics of the United States, to answer his call and be especially attentive to it during this week to come. “
During the multilingual Mass – which was also broadcast live on the Archdiocese’s website – Bishop Dorsonville said it was a joy to see the few hundred people gathered to reflect and pray for the migrant, the immigrant and displaced person.
In his welcome message, Mgr. W. Ronald Jameson, Rector of the Cathedral, welcomed three Ambassadors, representing the countries of Guatemala, Ecuador and the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, as well as other international representatives attending the Mass. Jameson also read an excerpt from Pope Francis’ annual message on World Migrants and Refugees Day, citing: “We are all in the same boat and called to work together so that there is no more walls that separate us, no longer from others, but only one “us”, encompassing all of humanity.
In addition, Tabla For Two, a local musical duo who perform Afghan music to promote peace and mutual understanding, provided the hymn during the preparation of the Eucharist as well as the music during the prelude.
Calling the mass a “nice surprise,” Maunica Malladi, a district resident who attends mass in St. Matthew, was unaware of the annual commemoration of World Migrant and Refugee Day. “Everything there was beautiful,” Malladi noted, adding that for devotees, the annual event symbolized the shared humanity of the people. “Jesus was also a refugee – we are all his brothers and sisters. “
Xristian Olivas attended mass with his mother, Roxanna Paalvast, director of strategic initiatives at the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, who has been a liturgy reader. The two agreed that honoring migrants is a main message from God. “Jesus Christ says ‘love your neighbor’ – that’s what your neighbors are – migrants, people across the border, people we don’t know,” Olivas said. “You have to love them, accept them, welcome them with open arms. “
Paalvast said it is imperative to truly embrace diversity and multiculturalism. “Welcoming migrants is following the essence of God’s teachings,” she said.
Representing the African Catholic Association of DMV in the Washington area, Board member Albert Gyan said it was important to see Church leaders and members concerned about refugee issues, migrants and displaced persons. In his association, Catholic communities of African descent come together for dialogue and advocacy. This group is advocating for more COVID-19 vaccinations for the African population, where currently only 1% of the population has received at least one dose. “We need to have a bigger human family,” Gyan said, adding that he appreciated Bishop Dorsonville’s call to “all Catholics to go beyond their own nuclear family”.
Sister Joanna Okereke, deputy director of the Committee of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers Pastoral Care for Cultural Diversity at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, approved. “We strive to be a voice of African Catholic migration,” she said. The nun, a member of the Handmaids of the Holy Child of Jesus, a religious order founded in Nigeria, said she finds it wonderful that the whole world is praying on these issues. “The Pope said to come up with a ‘larger us’ – (and) see if we can reach out to everyone and make them feel at home.”
Participant Ariel Hobbs, a student at Catholic University, heard about the Mass and attended to give her support. “It is important that we have a sense of oneness in a world where we are all divided today – both politically and in the Church,” Hobbs said. “It is important that we all come together because we are one in the Body of the Church.