NEW YORK — Earlier this week, Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe kicked-off Pope Francis’s “Share the Journey” campaign by celebrating a special diocesan mass where he commemorated the pope’s visit to the United States two years ago.
Wester reminded those in attendance that part of the pope’s visit was to help Americans recall their own history as a nation of immigrants.
“Remember when he came to visit our country, not long ago and spoke before the joint sessions of Congress?” Wester asked. “He said that we the people of this continent are not fearful of foreigners because most of us were once foreigners.”
The “Share the Journey” campaign, which is being organized by Caritas Internationalis, began on Wednesday of this week.
“I encourage you to support this praiseworthy initiative as an expression of our solidarity with our many brothers and sisters in need,” Francis said at his weekly audience this past Wednesday.
The new movement is focused on providing practical ways for Catholics to break down barriers of fear and build bridges with migrants and refugees and is being jumpstarted in the United States with a special Week of Prayer and Action from October 7-13.
Wester told those in attendance that the Church is called to pay special attention to the plight of migrants and refugees as a part of its concern for the poor.
“We know that the Church has a special place in her heart for the poor. Sometimes called a preferential option for the poor,” he said.
“The poor are the ones most in danger of not being united with us. They’re the ones most in danger of dying of starvation, of disease, of being forgotten, of being trafficked, of being beaten down. It is the poor that we must reach out to first, and gathering to bear witness,” said Wester.
Wester also told those in attendance that concern for migrants and refugees cannot be based on legal status, but rather out of Christian duty.
“Yes, we must work for comprehensive immigration reform, we must do all that we can,” he said, “but our first duty is to be one with Christ and one with our immigrant brothers and sisters.”
In his homily, Wester said that the point of the “Share the Journey” campaign was to promote unity with Christ and each other.
“You cannot love God and not neighbor, or the other way around,” said Wester.
“We are one with Christ and one with each other. May the next two years help us to extend this unity to everyone, as we ask over and over and over again: ‘Where are the others?’”