ACTION: World Day of Migrants and Refugees (27 Sep)

This year's World Day of Migrants and Refugees is on Sunday 27 September with Pope Francis' chosen theme: “Forced like Jesus to flee,” which focuses on the plight of internally displaced people.

Welcome each other, as Christ welcomed you (Romans 15:7)
In scripture, we read the account of the Holy Family fleeing Herod’s persecution. In every person forced to flee for safety, Jesus is present. In the face of the hungry, the naked and the destitute refugee and migrant, we are called to see the face of Christ who asks for our help.

The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines the right for everyone to seek and enjoy asylum in other countries free from persecution. This right lies at the heart of contemporary work in this area.

Archdiocesan Working Group
The Archdiocese's Commission for Caritas, Justice and Peace has formed The Refugees, Migrants and Asylum Seekers sub-group. It is committed to:

• Finding ways to work with local parishes and other organisations to make life better for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.

• To educate ourselves and others about the problems facing displaced people and to communicate accurate information which conveys a positive message about the gifts refugees and migrants can offer.

• To make links with other voluntary and public organisations with a parallel mission.

If you would be interested in joining the Commission’s working group, email m.a.kaikai@ed.ac.uk

Taking Action in Parishes
There are a number of practical steps that you can take as an individual or parish community. Your parish could consider funding an asylum seeker or failed asylum seeker in need of support through the Refugee Survival Trust, at www.rst.org.uk.

Parish communities may wish to publicise or take part in a Befriending Programme. This could be a specific venture, or part of existing programmes such as soup kitchens or food banks. You can get support and access an online programme by emailing life@thewelcoming.org

Your parish can join local networks to show support for refugees through the New Scots Connect map and forum which can be found here.

Schools take to Twitter to praise pupils' Caritas success!

Schools across Scotland have taken to Twitter to highlight pupils' efforts in completing the Pope Benedict XVI Caritas Award programme.

A total of 1280 young people took part, dedicating 40 hours’ service to their local church and community to help others and renew their own commitment to the Catholic faith.

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, Bishop President for Education, sent a message to pupils across Scotland, saying: "I hope that the Caritas programme has strengthened your commitment to love God above all things and to serve our neighbour as Christ asked us to do, and that you will treasure your Caritas medal."

Archbishop Leo Cushley, of St Andrews & Edinburgh, said: "Congratulations to all pupils in the Archdiocese and across Scotland who completed the Caritas award programme this year. Thank you for your commitment to living out the faith by helping others."

The Scottish Catholic Education Service Tweeted: "This year pupils completed 51,200 hours of voluntary faith witness in home, school, parish and community = 2,133 days of service to others = 6 years of loving others!

In a message to pupils, John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, "The difference that your energy  and the values that you hold make to the people around you and more widely is truly inspiring."

St Margaret's Academy in Livingston told pupils: "The voluntary hours you completed, many more than were needed, showed how committed you are to both the school & wider community."

The Pope Benedict XVI CARITAS AWARD encourages and promotes the ongoing faith journey of young people. To find out more visit the SCES website here

Caritas Award pupils promote faith in action

Hundreds of pupils across Scotland have been praised for their commitment to living out their Catholic faith at the Pope Benedict XVI Caritas Award Ceremony hosted in Glasgow, Tuesday 28 May, including nearly 200 pupils from the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh. The award is bestowed upon those who have dedicated 40 hours’ service to their local church and community to help others and renew their own commitment to the Catholic faith.

Enoch Aderibigbe (left), a pupil at St Andrew’s High School, Kirkcaldy, said: “I volunteered at school coaching the basketball team and passing on my skills to the younger ones. Particularly with coaching, I picked up new skills and you become more committed and feel more motivated to do it.”

Meanwhile, Anna Morrow (below right), of St Thomas of Aquin's High School, Edinburgh, said: “I volunteered at a care home every week. I really enjoyed that because some of them don’t get many visitors and can feel quite lonely at times. To build that relationship with them is really rewarding.”Anna Morrow

The ceremony at the Scottish Exhibition Centre's Armadillo saw Archbishop Leo Cushley praise pupils for their efforts, along with guest of honour, the Scottish Education Secretary, John Swinney MSP.

Archbishop Cushley said: "As you stand on the edge of adulthood, I hope these 40 hours of service are only a foretaste of what you will bring to the church and to the world, and that you will continue to place yourselves joyfully  at the service of others, and build a better, saner, fairer, happier world for everyone."

Lauren Coates, a pupil at St Columba’s High School, Dunfermline, spoke of the personal impact of undertaking the Caritas Award: “It allowed me to share the love of God to others and help young people feel the love of God and do things for the community that they wouldn’t do otherwise."

“You can experience and share your skills and socialise with other people. It’s a great award to have.”