This past Wednesday, Manhattan College hosted a webinar session on the launch of Pope Francis’ new migration campaign.
The campaign, which has been titled “Share the Journey,” is aimed at supporting immigrants and refugees around the world.
According to the Justice for Immigrants website, the mission’s goal is to use Catholic teachings and values “to educate the public, especially the Catholic community, about Church teaching on migration and immigrants; to create political will for just and humane immigration reform; and advocate for just and fair reforms in U.S. immigration and refugee laws and policies that reflect the principles enunciated by the bishops.”
The hour-long webinar broadcast by Catholic Charities of the USA (CCUSA) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) was played in Kelly Commons where students and faculty alike gathered to gain knowledge on this new campaign.
Todd Scribner, the education outreach coordinator for USCCB, introduced the mission and general timeline of the campaign through the broadcast.
“The campaign as a whole will show the church as an international organization can and will accompany migrants throughout every stage of the process,” said Scribner.
“The campaign was created in an effort to decrease the animosity that can arise between native-born and migrant people as well as highlight the importance of putting into place policies that uplift human dignity,” said Scribner.
Jim Kuh, the senior director of Immigration and Refugee Services within the CCUSA, spoke about how individual parishes will be imperative to the campaign.
The parishes need to be on the front lines of this movement,” said “We want to emphasize interpersonal connection above all.”
He went on to explain how prayer weeks and calls to action inside the 17,000 parishes across the country will fuel the groundwork of the movement.
Catholic Relief Services social media manager Jim Stipe assured the audience that there will be direct connections between the campaign and college campuses.
“There will be university outreach for this campaign. We will be using social media like Snapchat and resources specifically aimed at colleges and their students,” said Stipe.
Lois Harr, who is the director of campus ministry and social action at the college, organized the broadcast within the Manhattan College campus. Harr expects the Manhattan College community to latch onto and get involved in the campaign.
“We’ve had successful immigration simulations in the past. We might try another version of this kind of hands on, experiential education,” said Harr.
As far as execution of the campaign, Harr has several ideas already in the works.
“We can share resources with faculty, get a guest speaker and we can visit local Congressional offices,” said Harr. “Once we get a group together – we’ll have even more ideas!”
From a personal standpoint, Harr is glad that the campaign emphasizes freedom of religion and wants to support refugees and migrants regardless of their creeds.
“None of this is about proselytizing or converting anyone – except maybe ourselves,” said Harr in an email statement. “We all need to be convinced and convicted by our own faith traditions.”
Mike Kiely, a Catholic student at the college, believes that campaigns such as this one are an obligation of catholics.
“I feel there is a responsibility to support refugees and immigrants because God tells us to love thy neighbor and to me that means loving all people and helping those in need,” said Kiely.
For Kiely, the issue of immigration is a personal one.
“Coming from a family of immigrants I realize the importance of letting people get the chance to find work and make a better life. The church can help with that,” said Kiely.
Pope Francis will launch the campaign officially on Sept. 27 and the official “Share the Journey” website will be live some time early next month.