On Sunday, 25 September 2022, the Catholic Church commemorates the 108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR). This year, Pope Francis has chosen “Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees” as the theme to highlight the importance of committing ourselves to the call of building together a future that embraces God’s plan.
The Holy Father emphasises the critical need for all to work together in creating an environment in which we can all live together in harmony and dignity. This plea comes at a time when the violation of human dignity through the disregard of the intrinsic image of God in each one of us has not only become common practice but happens with little or no condemnation.
Many vulnerable migrants, refugees and other forcibly displaced persons stand in the existential margins of our society and experience exclusion. The Jesuits of Southern Africa join the Holy Father in encouraging all to work together with the migrants and refugees in building the Kingdom of God which encompasses “love, justice and universal peace.” (cf. Gaudate et Exsultate, #25) We invite everyone to respond positively to the invitation of being a people that appreciates and embraces the other person, irrespective of their nationality or citizenship.
As the Society of Jesus in Southern Africa, we further encourage everyone to value the presence of migrants and refugees in their communities, recognising the fact that each one has been blessed with talents. We ask that they be accorded the opportunity to participate in the building of a better future for all. As Pope Francis says, they are “not invaders or destroyers but willing labourers who rebuild.” If we fail to seize this opportunity of embracing them, we would have missed a golden opportunity, a gift from God to enrich all of us.
The Holy Father encourages all of us, but in a special way, all young people, who constitute the majority of the population of the African continent to make a special effort of building the future with migrants and refugees.
The Society of Jesus with migrants, refugees and young people at the heart of its Universal Apostolic Preferences, supports the call of the Holy Father for young people, from both the (forced) migrants and host communities in Southern Africa and beyond, to actively heed the call of Pope Francis. We must all come together, roll up our sleeves, build an inclusive future that values everyone’s contribution and presence.
Fr. Rampe Hlobo SJ
Migrants Commission Chairman