The plight of Patrick, himself a migrant, has been faced by many Irish people who have struggled to live and integrate into new cultures.
The Irish bishops’ communiqué following their spring meeting
has a strong focus on the growing hunger crisis in the developing world
and on the plight of refugees and immigrants.
After thanking Ireland’s pupils, schools and families for their
continuing support for the Trócaire Lenten campaign, the bishops
expressed deep concern for those across the world facing growing levels
of hunger, particularly in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.
“Food stocks have been exhausted and famine has already been declared
in parts of South Sudan, while a state of national disaster has been
declared in Somalia and this has been compounded by drought and
conflict,” the bishops said.
“In a world of plenty, people are dying
because they do not have enough food to eat. It is unacceptable that, in
the 21st century, starvation remains a reality for so many on the planet, with women and children being the most vulnerable.”
The bishops encouraged all people of goodwill to support Trócaire’s
2017 Lenten campaign, which this year is on the theme ‘Humanitarian need
across the world’.
This can be done by requesting a Trócaire box from
your local parish or by donating online at https://www.trocaire.org/getinvolved/lent.
At their meeting at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, the bishops
prayed through the intercession of our national patron for the faith and
well-being of Irish people everywhere.
They said: “The plight of
Patrick, himself a migrant, has been faced by many Irish people who have
struggled to live and integrate into new cultures. Patrick was called
to serve and bring God to a people far from his homeland and became a
pioneer in an inhospitable climate. As Saint Patrick’s Day is a Holy Day
of Obligation for Catholics in Ireland, the best way to remember our
saint is to attend Mass.”
Another event in March that the bishops commented upon is the ‘Joy of
Bells’ initiative in support of migrants and refugees, which is being
promoted by the Church of Ireland Dean of Waterford Cathedral Maria
Jansson and the former President of Ireland Mary McAleese.
“We are encouraging parishes to ring their church bells on Sunday March
19, at 11 am if possible, to proclaim our Christian witness and to make a
proclamation of faith, trust, love, reconciliation and joy that every
migrant is welcome.”
The bishops also invited the faithful to pray for Pope Francis’s
intention for March ‘that persecuted Christians may be supported by the
prayers and material help of the whole Church’.
Additionally, they called on people to be generous in supporting the
Good Friday collection on 14 April, which is in aid of the people and
places of the Holy Land.
They especially encouraged any Irish pilgrim
visiting the Holy Land to join with the local Christian communities in
celebrating Sunday Mass in Jerusalem in the West Bank.