World Day of Migrants and Refugees

Published on 7th Sep, 2020

“Forced like Jesus Christ to Flee”

World Day of Migrants and Refugees: The last Sunday of September of every year is World Day of Migrants and Refugees. For Sunday 27 September 2020, Pope Francis has chosen the theme ‘Forced like Jesus to flee’, with a focus on the need for the pastoral care of internally displaced persons who are estimated to number more than 41 million worldwide.

Image: Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development/

Prayer to Bless our Togetherness in a Pandemic that holds us apart

The Herod Virus

Jesus, Mary, Joseph.
To escape the wrath of Herod,
you isolated yourselves in Egypt,
far from the support of family and friends.
We, too, are separated from many loved ones.
Our ‘Herod’ is a virus putting all at risk.
Border closures prevent travel,
making reunion impossible.
You know the anguish of separation and
how the unknown gives birth to fear.
Strengthen the aroha that binds us,
The wairua that holds is close.
Gentle us in this time of uncertainty
to believe, to trust, to hope. Amen.
– Matthew 2:13-15

The Herod Virus is one of a set of six prayers To Bless Our Togetherness written by Fr James Lyons for us to use to pray for members of our families and others we know who are facing difficult and challenging times. The prayers are being distributed to parishes and are on the Archdiocese website:

In a recent letter to parishes Cardinal John Dew wrote, ‘We all know people around the country and in other parts of the world – possibly members of your own families – who we are not able to be with in these strange and challenging days. We know others who have lost their jobs or their business and for whom life is challenging. I encourage you to use these prayers to pray for others in these days when life is difficult.’

World Day of Migrants and Refugees

In his Urbi et Orbi message earlier this year, the Pope said, ‘I have decided to devote this Message to the drama of internally displaced persons, an often unseen tragedy that the global crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated. In fact, due to its virulence, severity and geographical extent, this crisis has impacted on many other humanitarian emergencies that affect millions of people, which has relegated to the bottom of national political agendas those urgent international efforts essential to saving lives.

‘But this is not a time for forgetfulness. The crisis we are facing should not make us forget the many other crises that bring suffering to so many people.’

The Pope’s reflection for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees begins with the experience of the young Jesus and his family as displaced persons and refugees, says the Vatican Press Office. ‘This provides a Christological grounding for the Christian action of welcome or hospitality.’

The reflection goes on to explore six sub-themes expressed by six pairs of verbs: to know in order to understand; to draw near so as to serve; to listen in order to reconcile; to share and thus to grow; to involve in order to promote; and finally, to collaborate and therefore to build.

The issue of migrants and refugees has been one of the focal points of the pontificate of Pope Francis.

The Migrants & Refugees Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development is responsible for supporting the celebration of this day. Online resources have been developed to encourage the pastoral work of the church on behalf of migrants and refugees:

Published in WelCom September 2020

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