On September 27, the Church will celebrate the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR). Since 1914, the Church has used this day as a way to “express concern for the different vulnerable people on the move, to pray for them as they face many challenges, and to increate awareness about the opportunities that migration offers,” (The Vatican).
It just happens that September 27 is also the celebration of the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul, the founder of the Daughters of Charity. He was–and still is–renowned for this compassion, humility, and generosity to the poor. As he said, “Go to the poor: you will find God.” We must do the same not just on this World Day of Migrants and Refugees, but every day.
This year, Pope Francis chose the theme of “Forced like Jesus Christ to flee,” as the Church is focusing on the pastoral care of internally displaced persons. As we approach this WDMR, I am reminded that we are all called to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate migrants. The only way for me to begin to do this is to begin to educate myself and serve directly within migrant communities.
As I was reflecting on what this day means to me and to those that I’m trying to serve, I came across a statistic that is worth sharing. At the end of 2019, there were an estimated 50.8 MILLION internally displaced persons. That’s a huge number, but what does this number mean to us?
To me, these people are more than just a number. Rather, they are real people with real stories. We are called to encounter and to embrace migrants, no matter where they are from and who they are.
Now more than ever, as a Vincentian Mission Corps volunteer, it is important for me to act and to constantly ask myself, “What must be done?” World Day of Migrants and Refugees is a reminder to me that Jesus was not only a refugee himself, but that He calls us to love and serve everyone. His love knows no boundaries. He helped and loved the faces of the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stick, strangers, and prisoners because He saw their worth and their dignity.
Let us celebrate this World Day of Migrants and Refugees while remembering that we are all called to action. Love can be this action and it is what we need to be rooted in in order to best serve and protect the most vulnerable populations.
Written by Allison Moser