By Ann Marie Foley - 19 January, 2015
Yesterday was the 101st World Day of Migrants and Refugees and throughout Ireland parishioners prayed for those who have travelled far from their homeland in search of a better life.
The emotional strain of uncertainty and unfamiliarity that migrants face can lead them into poor mental health stated Bishop John Kirby, Chair of the Irish Bishops’ Council for Emigrants and Bishop Raymond Field, Chair of the Irish Bishops’ Council for Immigrants.
In their message to mark the day, the two bishops said, “Large numbers of Irish people continue to travel abroad in search of new opportunities. While their departure creates a void in Irish families and parishes, our communities, villages and towns have also become home to thousands of new residents from all over the world: migrants who have left their home in the hope of starting a new life.”
“Often these journeys bring uncertainty and unfamiliarity to the migrant and their families. This in turn can lead to significant strain on their emotional and mental well-being. Indeed mental health difficulties are the unspoken injury afflicting whole swathes of the migrant community,” they add while commending a resource pack which is available on the website.
They hope will highlight the issue and bring it into people’s consciousness, so that through dialogue and awareness people can receive comfort, security and support from their community and parish.
They highlight the message of Pope Francis for this migrants’ day and its theme Church without Frontiers, Mother to All.
In it the Pope notes how Jesus identifies himself with strangers and outcasts and “Jesus Christ is always waiting to be recognised in migrants and refugees, in displaced persons and in exiles, and through them he calls us to share our resources, and occasionally to give up something of our acquired riches.”
The bishops state that Pope Francis has made migration a signature issue of his pontificate and has spoken out on behalf of the migrants and against ‘the globalisation of indifference’.
The Pope stated, “In an age of such vast movements of migration, large numbers of people are leaving their homelands, with a suitcase full of fears and desires, to undertake a hopeful and dangerous trip in search of more humane living conditions.”
Pope Francis also urged people to make efforts to ensure that the dignity and the “centrality” of the human person is protected, promoting solidarity and dialogue between peoples.
In Ireland, CSO statistics and those from the Refugee Applications Commissioner show that Ireland had 60,600 immigrants and 81,900 emigrants during 2014.
The number of people leaving Ireland fell by 20% from 50,900 to 40,700. The number of returning Irish people was 11,000 which is down from 15,700 last year.
Some 854 applications were made for a declaration to be a refugee in Ireland.