Ahmad, a native of Afghanistan, worked in that war-torn country as a security specialist, interpreter and driver for the U.S. Department of State, Department of Defense, and Army. He and his family became targets for anti-American groups.
About four years ago, he left those dangers behind and moved with his family to Virginia after the U.S. government approved him as an Afghan Special Immigrant. He was resettled with the help of the Commonwealth Catholic Charities of Newport News, Virginia, and now works for a company that makes medical and surgical equipment. The U.S. Catholic bishops shared his story and others on the Justice for Immigrants website.
For more than half a century Catholics have celebrated National Migration Week. The celebration helps us understand how we’re called as followers of Jesus to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking.
Our attention to this issue is critical today. According to Justice for Immigrants, a campaign of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the forced displacement of people is currently at the highest level since World War II. More than 65 million people are now displaced around the world and over 22 million are refugees.
Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski encourages us to learn more about the conditions facing migrants in our nation and community. He also encourages us to explore the organizations supporting migrants. Our actions are a way we can heed Pope Francis’ call to be a part of a culture of encounter as we welcome, protect, integrate and promote immigrants and refugees in our midst.
“As Catholics, we are called to welcome the stranger, and support all immigrants arriving in St. Louis regardless of their country of origin,” Archbishop Rozanski wrote in a letter to Catholics regarding National Migration Week. “Let us take this opportunity to think about how we can help our brothers and sisters in need who are entering our community with hopes of finding a better life and a new beginning.”
Migrants are arriving from around the world in St. Louis, many with few to no belongings. They need support for their basic needs and establishing a new home in our community. St. Francis Community Services, a federated agency of Catholic Charities of St. Louis, has worked with the immigrant community for more than 20 years. The legal services office has represented immigrants from over 50 countries. Other immigrant service providers in the St. Louis region specialize in refugee resettlement, so the services that St. Francis provides are complementary in refugee support. Learn more about the work of St. Francis, donate or offer to volunteer at sfcsstl.org.
National Migration Week for 2021 takes place Sept. 20-26, and will climax with the Vatican’s celebration of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, the last Sunday of September. But we can show our care for migrants and refugees year round.
>> Ways to help
In the Archdiocese of St. Louis, help for migrants is provided by St. Francis Community Services, sfcsstl.org
Also, organizations assisting refugees from Afghanistan resettling in the U.S. include:
• The International Institute, www.iistl.org
• Catholic Charities USA, www.catholiccharitiesusa.org
• Catholic Relief Services - Afghanistan, www.crs.org
• Oasis Ministries, www.oasis4refugees.org
• Bilingual International Assistant Services (BIAS), www.bilingualstl.org
• Welcome Neighbor STL, welcomeneighborstl.org