Christians across the United States have been marking National Migration Week, 6-12 January 2008, sponsored by Migration and Refugee Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), based around the theme 'From Many, One Family of God'.
In literature promoting the Week, these words have been accompanied by an image from the Gospel of Mark of Jesus feeding the crowds with multiplied loaves and fishes. The message the churches have been sending out is one of abundance to be shared with all people, rather than an approach to migration based on fear and antagonism.
This year's celebration marks the 27th annual National Migration Week observance. Bishop John C Wester of Salt Lake City, new chair of the USCCB Committee on Migration, said that the Weeks theme "reminds us that though we come from many cultures and places, we are all part of one human family and members of the one Body of Christ. Sadly, rather than embracing newcomers to our land whose circumstances have compelled them to seek new lives among us, we too often respond in fear and harbour attitudes of resentment and suspicion."
He added: "The loaves and fishes is God's promise not only to the disciples but to us as well. If we fail to minister to the needs of these newcomers, we fail our Lord himself."
Bishop Wester continued: "National Migration Week 2008 is a celebration of the diversity and richness of the family of God. When we set aside our concerns and share our resources, God's blessings extend to all of us."
Following the failure of the US Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform last summer, the Catholic Bishops have vowed to continue raising their "prophetic voice calling the faithful and all people of goodwill to reach out in love and understanding to our migrant brothers and sisters."
They add: "We must learn of the realities that cause them to leave all that is precious behind for an uncertain future, learn the truth about the many contributions they make and gifts they bring to our society, and work to reform our immigration laws that cause family disintegration and strife within communities."
The Migration and Refugee Services of the USCCB has made several materials available to facilitate continuing action on the issue, including a bilingual poster and calendar devoted to one particular topic and containing a Scripture passage and suggestions for practical response.