Note: This is the third of three columns that deals with the issue of migrants and refugees: its causes, what the Church teaches, and what action should be taken.
I hope you read Bishop Richard J. Malone's column in the July issue that talked about "building bridges instead of walls." He ended his powerful reflection with this observation: "Do all you can to learn about these issues ... Study them through the lenses of sacred Scripture and Catholic Social Teaching. And then ... act!"
His call to action is precisely what is needed for us to live our Gospel call to love our neighbor. So here are some suggestions for action - some that are small and local, some that are larger and have a wider impact.
We have a "motto" at Catholic Relief Services: Pray/Learn/Advocate/Participate. These four actions can help us to have a well-rounded approach to all issues, and the issue of migrants and refugees in particular. Here are some suggestions for each of the four aspects of our motto.
Pray - Certainly individual prayer is critically important, but you can also be effective in helping your parish or community pray together for migrants and refugees. At sharejourney.org there is a "Parish Toolkit" filled with intercessions, prayers for the bulletin, prayers to use at the beginning of parish meetings. There are all sorts of ways to remind parishioners of our brothers and sisters.
Learn - There is plenty to learn at the sharejourney.org website, but there is also a tremendous website dedicated to this issue as well (justiceforimmigrants.org). It is a site that is published by the U.S. bishops, so you know that what appears on the site is in line with what our Church teaches. In addition, that site will give you the latest news, statements by our bishops, deal in depth with issues, and provide you with resources like webinars, videos and Catholic teaching.
Advocate - This is where the rubber meets the road. The action that Bishop Malone was calling for must include our advocacy on behalf of migrants and refugees. We must join our fellow Catholics across the country to tell our legislators to pass laws that will uphold the dignity of immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees. We must speak out to those in government to insist that they pass the DREAM Act to provide a solution to the "DREAMERS," those who were brought here as children and have now made America their home.
Sharejourney.org and justiceforimmigrants.org both have an opportunity for you to sign up for their "action alerts" which will allow you to join your voice with others on important pieces of legislation. But also visit confrontglobalpoverty.org, a joint site between the U.S. bishops and CRS. There you can be a part of advocating for just policies of the U.S. that affect people all across the globe.
Participate - There are so many ways to be a part of the solution: sponsor a refugee family through Journeys End; join or organize a "pilgrimage" in solidarity with migrants; invite us from CRS to provide a "refugee simulation" - and so many other activities to help everyone form a bond with our migrant brothers and sisters. Be creative in helping each other take action.
If you would like help with any of these resources, or have any questions on how you or your parish can get involved, please contact me at the email below. It is time to ACT.
Deacon Weigel is the diocesan director for Catholic Relief Services and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.