COLUMBIA—The holiday season is a time when travel is on everyone’s mind. Individuals and families hit the highways, catch cross-country and international flights, and fight crowded train and bus stations all in an effort to be close to family and friends.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is asking Catholics to remember people who travel for completely different reasons, either because they are fl eeing injustice or must be on the road for work to support their families.
The USCCB is sponsoring the 2010 National Migration Week from Jan. 3-9 with the theme, “Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice.” The conference started the observance more than 25 years ago as a time for Catholics to learn about the wide diversity of migrant people in the church and the ministries serving them. A Web site offers more perspective at www.usccb.org/mrs/nmw/index.shtml.
Organizers are focusing on the concerns of migrant children as a sub-theme this year, following the lead of Pope Benedict XVI, who said he will focus on minor migrants and refugees for the 2010 World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone has expressed his support for the initiative. In celebration of the week, the Diocese of Charleston’s Office of Ethnic Ministries will launch the Justice for Immigrants postcard campaign around the state, according to Kathleen Merritt, director of ethnic ministries.
Justice for Immigrants is a campaign supported by the USCCB and other national organizations. It advocates comprehensive immigration reform in the United States. The goals include educating the Catholic community about church teaching on migration and immigrants and creating political will for positive immigration reform.
Beginning Jan. 1, the Justice for Immigrants postcard campaign will call for immigration reform that focuses on keeping families together, includes sensible and humane enforcement policies, and offers a chance for immigrants without legal status to register with the government and begin a path toward citizenship. The postcards will be addressed to South Carolina legislators in Washington, D.C.
Merritt is working with Lindamarie Richardson, president of the South Carolina Council of Catholic Women, to spread the word about the campaign through its membership. The idea behind it is outlined at www.justiceforimmigrants.org.
“There are a lot of hard decisions that have to be made in Washington, and the people that are making them are going to have to look beyond what’s on paper in a dollar amount,” Merritt said. “I would hope that in dealing with immigration, they’d look beyond finances, look to their hearts and let God guide them. We need to trust God that he’ll work it out.”
Parishes wishing to participate in the postcard campaign can contact Merritt at (864) 242-2233, ext. 214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.