ROME – Organizers of the international “Share the Journey” campaign are urging Catholics to step up and interact with migrants and refugees through shared meals or other activities as part of a global action week.
“We invite you to sit down together with migrants and refugees in your community, to look into their eyes, listen to their stories and to share your own,” Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said in a press release on the initiative.
The cardinal, who serves as Archbishop of Manila and is also the president of papal charity organization Caritas Internationalis, said each person’s journey starts “with a moment of sharing which helps us recognize the bonds which bind the whole of humanity together.”
“We are invited to have compassion and courage to open our hearts and minds to the people we don’t yet know and to share the journey with them.”
The Global Action Week will take place June 17-24 and is part of the wider, two-year Share the Journey campaign, which was launched by Caritas Internationalis in September 2017 with the goal of encouraging a “culture of encounter” and bolstering efforts to warmly welcome immigrants and refugees.
The project also aims to shed light on both the challenges and effects of migration at every stage of the journey in order to promote a “shift in thinking” on the issue. It has the support of the ACT Alliance, which is a network of 145 Christian agencies and a variety of other religious congregations and civil society groups worldwide.
As part of the action week, Caritas branches in all regions of the world will organize shared meals with immigrants and refugees, as well as other events aimed at providing opportunities for interaction.
In Rome, the Caritas soup kitchen at Termini, the city’s main train station, will host a meal with migrants and refugees June 19.
They have also promoted other activities, like the “My Mirror” social experiment promoted by Caritas Ambrosiana in Milan, which encourages strangers to look into each other’s eyes as a means of breaking down barriers.
Caritas Cyprus also organized a handbag event for women, giving each woman who came a handbag full of basic toiletries.
In the U.S., the bishops’ conference as well as Caritas organizations like Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA have promoted the campaign as a way for Catholics to pray for migrants and refugees and make concrete acts to help them.
In one activity, Catholic Relief Services partnered with a local clothing store, which agreed to donate 20 percent of all sock sales to the organization’s work with migrants and refugees.
The official website for the Share the Journey campaign in the U.S. is: www.sharethejourney.org.