The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) celebrated its 100th birthday this month at a Mass held during its general assembly in Maryland. In his homily, Cardinal Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, praised USCCB’s longtime migration and refugee work, saying that “the urgent need to welcome and integrate new waves of immigrants continues unabated” today as was the case when it began in 1917.
The centenary milestone was also recognized in a booklet, “A Century of Service.” Published and distributed to more than 500,000 Catholics in the US by the magazine Word Among Us, the publication consists of four articles honoring key aspects of USCCB leadership.
The Head of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) US Liaison Office, Jane E. Bloom, was honored to author the section devoted to the work of the Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) department of USCCB, a long-standing member of the ICMC. Entitled “Strangers No Longer,” her article is a firsthand account of the welcome and care extended to refugees and immigrants and of the continuing advocacy on their behalf.
MRS has been a member of ICMC for more than 50 years and continues to serve on its governing committee. The collaboration remains strong on many fronts today. For the last 11 years, the ICMC US Liaison Office has been housed within MRS at USCCB headquarters in Washington, D.C.
ICMC and MRS have conducted several joint programs both in the US and abroad. They include the Safe Passages program for unaccompanied migrant children crossing into the US from Mexico, joint assessment teams in Syria and Jordan, caseload resolution of unaccompanied Haitian children in the Dominican Republic and recent work to combat maritime trafficking.
MRS resettles and integrates many of the refugees coming from ICMC resettlement programs in Turkey and Lebanon. Together, they conduct a wide range of advocacy activities to raise awareness of the situation of refugees and migrants and increase the protection available to them. ICMC’s US Liaison Officer has served as a delegate on several overseas fact-finding missions organized by the USCCB’s Committee on Migration.
• Learn more about USCCB’s migration and refugee work: read the article Strangers No Longer.