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Statement on World Day of Migrants and Refugees

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Society of the Sacred Heart in the United States and Canada began – as so many American and Canadian institutions – with an immigrant. Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne left her home in France in 1818 with a desire to educate the poor, especially indigenous people of America.

In our 2016 Chapter Calls, the International Society of the Sacred Heart renewed its unity in diversity to “…act as one Body, dynamic, interconnected, linked with other bodies, in the world and as Church, in order to share, collaborate, and to be in solidarity among ourselves and with others.” (General Chapter 2016)

In the Society’s International Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) document of June 2019, Being Artisans of Hope in Our Blessed and Broken World, migration is named as one of the four major themes we are addressing internationally as one Body in the Church and in the world.

In his message for the 105th World Day of Migrant and Refugees, September 29, 2019, Pope Francis calls on us to respond as one Body to the challenges posed by contemporary migration and reminds us that “it is not just about migrants.” (Message 2019) He continues:

“The most economically advanced societies are witnessing a growing trend towards extreme individualism which, combined with a utilitarian mentality and reinforced by the media, is producing a “globalization of indifference.” In this scenario, migrants, refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking have become emblems of exclusion. In addition to the hardships that their condition entails, they are often looked down upon and considered the source of all society’s ills. That attitude is an alarm bell warning of the moral decline we will face if we continue to give ground to the throw-away culture. In fact, if it continues, anyone who does not fall within the accepted norms of physical, mental and social well-being is at risk of marginalization and exclusion.” (Message 2019)

He ends his message by noting, “It is not only the cause of migrants that is at stake; it is not just about them, but about all of us, and about the present and future of the human family. Migrants, especially those who are most vulnerable, help us to read the ‘signs of the times.’ Through them, the Lord is calling us to conversion, to be set free from exclusivity, indifference and the throw-away culture. Through them, the Lord invites us to embrace fully our Christian life and to contribute, each according to his or her proper vocation, to the building up of a world that is more and more in accord with God’s plan.” (Message 2019)

The United States – Canada Province joins with Pope Francis in inviting us to examine the “globalization of indifference” in ourselves, our communities and our countries, and to celebrate the ways in which immigrants have built our two countries and the enormous contributions they continue to make to build up our countries and our world “…in accord with God’s plan.” (Message 2019)