An Invitation to Welcome the Stranger in 2023

“As we begin this first month of 2023, let us all remain acutely aware of our duties, as people of faith and good will, to contribute toward a new way of thinking and action,” urges ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo in his video message welcoming the New Year.

An Invitation to Welcome the Stranger

Dear colleagues and partners of the International Catholic Migration Commission and all those migrants and refugees, displaced persons, and survivors of human trafficking with whom we are called to walk in search of justice and peace,

When reflecting on a New Year message to share with you, I happened to find this wise counsel by the famous English poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, who wrote, in his poem entitled Ring Out Wild Bells:

The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease, Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old, Ring in the thousand years of peace.

As we begin this first month of 2023, let us all remain acutely aware of our duties, as people of faith and good will, to contribute toward a new way of thinking and action. Let us look beyond a search for personal wealth and comfort, a commitment to benefit “me or mine first”, a rejection of those who may come from a distant land or a different culture.

In a recent personal message to the leaders of our ICMC organization, Pope Francis urged us never to “… forget the millions of asylum seekers, refugees, and displaced persons in other parts of the world, who desperately need to be welcomed, protected and loved … [and] …   to serve everyone and work actively for the building of a peaceful future.”

At times, we sit before television screens watching war being waged minute by minute. We may be fixated by the evil which unfolds before our very eyes, and we may feel very helpless to mount any effective responses to such horror.

But Pope Francis offers us an effective remedy which we could put into action in our very own homes or local communities and in the world-at-large – Let us pray for peace! – for only God can help our world overcome the divisions and violence in which so many of our brothers and sisters in the human family are presently engaged.

He pleads with us “…to arise and to go – not to stay still thinking about ourselves, wasting our lives and chasing after comforts or the latest fads, but to aim for the heights, get on the move, leaving behind our own fears to take someone in need by the hand …

My New Year wish for 2023 is that you will join with ICMC in taking care of others, building fraternal communities with others, making dreams of peace come true!

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