Migration & Refugee Outreach
Pope Francis and Bishop Burbidge Invite You to "Share the Journey"
St. Agnes is Offering an Opportunity to Help!
When a refugee family reaches the U.S., they may have spent up to 2 YEARS in a refugee camp under extreme living conditions, without indoor plumbing, privacy, much food or shelter.
With virtually no other local network of support, though grateful and hopeful, refugees coming into our area are met with a warm welcome from teams at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington’s (CCDA) Migration and Refugee Services (MRS).
This year, CCDA expects 600 refugees (250 families). Upon their arrival, MRS will help get them on their feet, providing basic human needs, as well as training and assistance to help these individuals assimilate - find jobs, register for school etc.
What You Can Do
• Provide Donations of Household and Personal Items - See a full list of needs from CCDA here.
• Make a Financial Donation - CCDA/MRS is in need of financial resources to allocate to areas of need for each family.
• Sign up to provide personal assistance as needed. There are many available opportunities based on your interests and schedule
How You Do It
• Donate Items - Bring items to the back of the vestibule by the St. Agnes statue.
• Make a Financial Contribution - Please make checks payable to St. Agnes Church and drop them or gift cards at the Parish Office. They can also be placed, clearly marked for “Migration and Refugee Outreach,” in Offertory collection baskets. You may also make a one-time gift online through Faith Direct.
• Sign Up to Volunteer Your Time – Needs exist for tutoring, providing transportation etc. You can view some of them at the online volunteer registration portal here.
If you would like to volunteer your time or have questions, contact Jean Shirhall, St. Agnes project coordinator, at [email protected].
Catholic Social Teaching and Immigration Panel Hosted by St. Agnes Church
On Wednesday evening, September 12th, Father Frederick Edlefsen, Pastor, hosted a compelling panel discussion on Catholic Social Teaching and Immigration in the Parish Hall. Panelists included Father Edlefsen; Ashley Feasley, Director of Policy, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB); Jeff Caruso, Executive Director, Virginia Catholic Conference (VCC); and Gregory McKinney, Migration and Refugee Services (MRS), Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington.
The event was well attended and helped to shed light on how we as Catholics should approach the issue of immigration and the world refugee crisis. Panelists offered participants the opportunity to delve deeper into the nuances of and issues surrounding the national debate on immigration reform and the Church's efforts to shape public policy in this area. They also laid out key immigration issues that the Virginia General Assembly may consider in January, and how the Church "welcomes the stranger" locally, as part of a broad, world-wide effort to "share the journey."
Below are recordings of the evening's discussion.
What Does It Mean to Be a Refugee?
What is the Difference Between a Refugee and an Immigrant?
According to the United Nations High Commisioner for Refugees, a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of presecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-fouded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.
An immigrant is someone who voluntarily leaves his or her country in order to imporve the prospects for themselves and their families.
Catholic Teaching on Immigrants and Refugees
The Church's position on migration is rooted in the Gospel and in the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching. A recent example of this teaching is in Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, a joint pastoral letter concerning migration from the Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States. The pastoral letter promotes five principles that should be used to help formulate migration-related policy:
1. Persons have the right to find opportunities in their homeland. All persons have the right to find in their own countries the economic, political and social opportunities to live in dignity and achieve a full life through the use of their God-given gifts. In this context, work that provides a just, living wage is a basic human need.
2. Persons have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families. The Church recognizes that all the goods of the Earth belong to all people. When persons cannot find employment in their country of origin to support themselves and their families, they have a right to find work elsewhere in order to survive. Sovreign nations should provide ways to accommodate this right.
3. Sovreign nations have the right to control their borders. The Church recognizes the right of sovreign nations to control their territories and their borders. However, wealthier nations, which have the ability to better protect and feed their residents, have a strong obligation to accommodate migration flows.
4. Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection. Those who flee wars and persecution should be protected by the global community. This requires, at a minimum, that migrants have a right to claim refugee status without incarceration and to have their claims fully considered by a competent authority.
5. The human dignity and human rights of undocumented migrants should be respected. Regardless of their legal status, migrants, like all persons, possess inherent human dignity that should be respected. Often they are subject to punitive laws and harsh treatment by enforcement officers from both receiving and transit countries. The Church recognizes the right of every sovreign state to control its borders in order to promote the common good. It also recognizes the right of every human being to migrate in order to enjoy his or her God-given rights. These techings complement each other. Government policies that respect the basic human rights of the undocumented are necessary.