Breaking Boundaries: A Mercy Response to People on the Move Issue Spotlight #2 - Mercy Welcome and Hospitality
The MGA Migration Task Force report ‘Breaking Boundaries: A Mercy Response to People on the Move’ offers a collection of experiences, research, and analysis on justice issues related to human mobility, policy making, and service provision in response to migration. The report shares stories of Mercy Sisters, Associates, and Partners in ministry reflecting on a theology of mission amongst migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, and opening their hearts and minds to people from diverse backgrounds in the hope of cultivating a more just, inclusive, and equal world. As people devoted to an all-encompassing community of equals, the Mercy World recognizes people on the move for their unique giftedness, the powerful contributions they make to the world, and the new life that they bring with them.
Since Catherine McAuley opened the first House of Mercy in 1827 in Dublin, creating a warm and welcoming spirit of hospitality that upholds the dignity of each person has been a priority of the Mercy community and a constant and steadfast commitment to God’s mission. This mission, in keeping with the Gospel vision of inclusivity of all, welcomes the stranger, provides hospitality, supports migrants at borders, attempts to uphold the rights of migrants, and creates a sense of belonging and inclusion. Rejecting monochrome portrayals of people on the move as vulnerable and helpless, the Mercy World recognises the inherent dignity of each person and embraces this uniqueness, acknowledging that each person’s journey has its own distinct meaning and characteristics.
“I am inspired by the Gospel, the cry of the poor, and Catherine McAuley’s love for the poor.” -Patricia Lamb rsm, La Casa Amiga in Michigan, United States
Too often people on the move are faced with discrimination, exclusion, and xenophobic hostility across communities. As noted by Ms Gabriela Rodriguez Pizarro, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants "people whose colour, physical appearances, dress, accent or religion are different from those of the majority are often subjected to physical violence and other violations of their rights, independently of their legal status. A sense of alienation is part of being a migrant." For this reason, Mercy Sisters and Partners around the globe aim to build supportive relationships and friendships with migrants and refugees to promote integration and help newcomers settle into communities, and cultivate hope for the future.
Fostering positive interactions with people on the move applies a holistic approach that promotes equality, belonging, and a culture of encounter. Across the Mercy World, this has included organising social and leisure activities, providing support with language learning, and arranging befriending schemes. For Irish Mercy Sister, Nora Burke rsm, the important aspects of encountering people on the move are: “To listen to their needs and to respond in any way possible, helping them evaluate the context of their needs and responding with Mercy and compassion.”
Throughout our publication, the themes of ‘welcome and hospitality' are integral and reflect the spirit of openness, warmth, and encounter extended throughout the Mercy World. Deeply rooted in our Mercy charism, hospitality and care provided to migrants demonstrate a willingness to keep doors open to people who are looking for a place to call home. This reduces inequalities and strengthens the welfare of all members of society, with the acknowledgment that fully-integrated migrants are better positioned to contribute to prosperity for themselves, their families, and communities of origin and destination.
Calls to Action
- Welcome the Stranger: Extend a warm welcome to help immigrants, migrants, refugees, and people on the move. Build paths of solidarity and respect and create safe spaces for encountering, listening, and understanding
- Pray for people who are leaving their homes in search of new beginnings and safety
- Share gratitude and appreciation for staff and volunteers ministering to people on the move
- Reframe migration attitudes by emphasising what we have in common and promoting positive, inclusive, and hopeful messages that can challenge racism, xenophobia, and negative narratives of migration
- Call on policymakers to condemn harmful and dehumanising narratives of fear and exclusion about migrants and migration
- Take action for change using the UN #StandUpForMigrants Toolkit
- Read and share MGA’s publication and infographic!