During a Sept. 25 Mass at St. Matthew the Apostle Cathedral marking the 108th World Day for Migrants and Refugees, Auxiliary Bishop of Washington Mario Dorsonville – chairman of the United Nations Catholic Bishops’ Conference Committee on Migration United States – appealed for solidarity, understanding and assistance to people who move and arrive in this country after being forced to flee their homeland as a result of wars, devastation by natural disasters , social violence and trafficking in human beings by criminal organizations.
Celebrating Mass, Metropolitan Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia; Msgr. John Enzler, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington; and Msgr. Ronald Jameson, rector of the cathedral.
“We are all witnesses to the harsh realities faced by people coming to this country in their search for peace and an opportunity to live in dignity for themselves and their families. It is time to act out of love and in accordance with the teachings of the Gospel as Pope Francis has said. He urges us to commit to building a future that embraces God’s purpose, so that no one is left behind,” Bishop Dorsonville said in his homily.
He also stressed that all Christians are called to be instruments of peace and that showing solidarity with refugee families allows us to live in brotherhood.
“We cannot remain silent in the face of the drama that millions of people around the world are living. Let us seize this opportunity to accompany those who come to seek refuge with our actions and prayers and help those who are eager to start a new life in peace,” Bishop Dorsonville said.
The bishop said that when Pope Francis calls for “building the future with migrants and refugees”, he means that people must do their part to build a just and humane society where migrants and refugees are the welcome.
Before the end of the Mass, Archbishop Gudziak offered a reflection on the disastrous situation that millions of Ukrainian citizens are going through as a result of the war with Russia, pointing out that too many people have lost their lives and that many more have had to seek refuge in friendly countries.
“On behalf of my country, I thank you all for your prayers, your humanitarian assistance and the solidarity shown by the Ukrainians who came to the United States. Here in Washington, we have all witnessed the many stories of refugees, who find here a chance to move forward. Let us always defend the dignity of migrants. Let us continue to pray for refugees around the world,” Archbishop Gudziak stressed.
He also had words of comfort for people in Puerto Rico, Haiti and several Caribbean islands that have recently been ravaged by hurricanes and flooding.
Msgr. Jameson expressed his gratitude to Ambassadors Francisco Campbell of Nicaragua and Alfonso Quiñones of Guatemala, as well as representatives of the consulates of Peru, Argentina and Honduras for attending Mass on behalf of their respective countries.
“I am grateful for the presence of diplomatic envoys at this Mass to commemorate the 108th World Day for Migrants and Refugees. St. Matthew Apostle Cathedral has its doors always open to welcome those who seek refuge and comfort within the Mother Church,” said Msgr. said Jameson.
Guatemalan Ambassador Quiñones and his wife Gabriela del Rosario Palacios Labbe, representing the Hispanic diplomatic corps accredited to Washington, were designated to carry the offering gifts during the mass.
Many families, especially from Latin America and Africa, were present at the cathedral to attend the special mass for the refugees.
(Miguel Vivanco is associate editor of the Spanish-language newspaper El Pregonero and of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington’s website, and this article for El Pregonero has been translated into English for the Archdiocese’s Catholic Standard website.)