Since 2009, the Catholic bishops of Minnesota have designated a Sunday in January, typically the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, as Immigration Sunday Minnesota. The Minnesota Catholic Conference explains that “[o]n this day we are reminded that all human beings—regardless of ethnicity, nationality, race, creed or status—are “co-heirs, members of the same body, and co-partners in the promise in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 3:6) This includes newcomers to our country and state.” The day is intended as an “opportunity to learn more about the Church’s teaching on immigration and raise awareness about migration and immigration issues in Minnesota and beyond.”
This year, Immigration Sunday in Minnesota serves as a kickoff to National Migration Week, which this year has the theme “Creating a Culture of Encounter.” In his letter to the people of the Minneapolis and St. Paul Archdiocese, Archbishop Hebda explained that National Migration Week “is intended to be an opportunity for stepping outside of our comfort zones to encounter our brothers and sisters who are different than we are,” explaining that “it is only through such encounters that we can grow in our ability to see each other as children of God.”
Let me share the balance of his letter in full, as the call to action it contains is as necessary for those outside of our Archdiocese as for those within it.
Immigration Sunday and National Migration Week are also ideal opportunities for informing and examining our conscience in this area, requiring that we take the time to learn what the Church teaches about immigration and its connection to our Catholic understanding of the dignity of each and every person created by God. The Catholic Church has a rich history of both protecting the vulnerable and ensuring that just laws and regulations are followed. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has repeatedly asserted that our immigration system is in need of reform but has been just as adamant in reminding our legislators that the reform must take place without compromising public safety. It is clear that there is no simple solution to this complicated issue, but our bishops have consistently taken the position that a fair and effective reform would be possible if people of goodwill work together honestly and in charity.
In his letter for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis has reiterated a passage from the Book of Exodus (22:21): “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt,” while reminding our immigrant brothers and sisters that they need “to cooperate ever more closely with the communities that welcome them, for the good of their own children.”
That same balance is reflected in the helpful resources that the Minnesota Catholic Conference has prepared for parishes, schools and families, including insights drawn from Catholic social teaching, frequently asked questions, and immigration studies and statistics. As we together strive to be better Catholics and better neighbors, I encourage you to prayerfully read through the Minnesota Catholic Conference materials that can be found at: mncatholic.org/advocacyarea/ immigration-sunday-mn/.
May the longstanding principles of our Catholic teaching be the star that guides us to the Christ child so that we, like the magi, might catch a glimpse of His glory and adore Him.