Towards an ever wider “WE”

“Ours must be a personal and collective commitment that cares for all our brothers and sisters who continue to suffer, even as we work towards a more sustainable, balanced and inclusive development. A commitment that makes no distinction between natives and foreigners, between residents and guests, since it is a matter of treasure we hold in common, from whose care and benefits no one should be excluded,” stressed Pope Francis in his 2021 message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

At an international level, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has set aside 20 June to commemorate World Refugee Day while the United Nations (UN) celebrates International Migrants Day on 18 December. Within the Catholic Church, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, now in its 107th year is celebrated on the last Sunday of September. The Church sees this as an occasion to express concern for vulnerable people on the move. This year Pope Francis chose the theme – Towards an ever wider “WE”.

Together with the Good Shepherd Sisters, JRS had the pleasure of organising a prayer session on World Refugee Day and a rosary reflection on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Both prayer sessions were organised by the Prayer Warriors team, which was formed to tend to the spiritual nourishment and growth of JRS volunteers.

Sr Mary Vimala dialing in from India gave us food for thought as she reflected on the Pope’s message to extend our care and concern to refugees. “It is critical to protect and strengthen the lives of refugees on a daily basis, international days such as World Refugee Day serve to draw public attention to the plight of those fleeing wars and persecution,” she said.

Our concern for migrants and refugees can be woven into the prayers, thoughts and actions in our everyday lives, not just on ‘special’ days. Sr Del Kang urges us to look around us to see the many migrants in our midst. Sharing some simple, practical ways in which we can reach out to our migrant brothers and sisters all year round, Sr Del said, “We can look out for the welfare of our migrant workers instead of just thinking of them as paid labour onto whom we can pile on burdens that we ourselves would not carry. Our domestic helpers could be invited to sit with us at mealtimes. We can be more patient and kinder to everyone, especially those who serve us at home or in the marketplace, in hawkers centres, in our hospitals, nursing homes and the construction sites.”

Through organising prayer and reflection sessions JRS hopes that the message of Pope Francis on the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees will remain with us for much longer, serving as reminders that we as a loving Christian community, should strive to “embrace everyone, to build communion in diversity, to unify differences without imposing a de-personalised uniformity.”

This reflection was contributed by Ms Elaine Wong, Executive Director and Country Representative for JRS Singapore. Read more about Pope Francis message for the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees here.