National Migration Week 2021 is observed by the Church from September 20 to 26. It culminates with the Vatican’s celebration of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees on September 26. National Migration Week has been celebrated for nearly half a century as an opportunity to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, which includes immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking.
This year’s theme is “Towards an Ever Wider ‘We’” which comes from Pope Francis, who emphasized that “this focus calls on us to ensure that ‘after all this, we will think no longer in terms of ‘them’ and ‘those,’ but only ‘us” (Fratelli Tutti, no 35).
“Transformed by our encounter with God and neighbor, we strive to learn more about those issues impacting our families, local communities, and brothers and sisters around the world. Catholic social teaching illuminates the problems facing our local and global communities with the light of our faith and guides us as we seek to understand root causes and discern how we are called to act.” (wearesaltandlight.org)
Indiana Immigrant Facts:
(American Immigration Council Indiana Fact Sheet (2020))
- 5% of Indiana residents are immigrants.
- In 2018, there were 354,348 Hoosiers born in a different country and immigrated to the United States.
- In 2018, 35% of adult immigrants had a college degree or more.
- Immigrants generate millions of dollars in annual business revenue as entrepreneurs and billions to Indiana's economy as consumers. In 2018, 7% of self-employed Hoosiers were immigrants. That is 18,583 immigrant business owners who live in Indiana that generated $497.9 million in business income.
- Two out of five immigrants in Indiana are naturalized U.S. citizens.
- Immigrants are an integral and vital part of the Indiana workforce in a range of occupations. In 2018, 226,043 immigrant workers comprised 7 percent of the labor force.
Personally, my great-grandparents on both sides were immigrants to the USA from Germany, France, and Ireland. I was raised on their stories. I was raised to be proud of my ancestry, and more importantly, my ancestors. They were good, hardworking, Catholic Christian people looking for a better life for themselves and their families, no doubt with their share of struggles and shortcomings. I find this to be true of most people I know even today – whether immigrant or not. And while I’ve traveled abroad numerous times, the idea of picking up and relocating to another country, oftentimes due to the real hardships of one’s home country, seems very hard to imagine. I’m not sure I’d be able to do it and be as successful as they were. While I personally did not migrate from another country, I am here because of their courage, endurance, and persistence. I’m here because of their tremendous faith and trust in God to make such a journey – so much like Abraham or St Joseph. I am the beneficiary of migration directly. I suspect most of us have immigrant ancestors. Therefore, the idea that migrants are a ‘them’ is sort strange. That ‘them’ is how ‘I’ became ‘me’… how (most) all of ‘us’ became a ‘we.’
E Pluribus Unum
Holy Family, Refugees into and out of Egypt, Pray for us.
~ Fr Jeremy M. Gries