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Thursday, March 30, 2017
Ireland: Bishops launch campaign to support Irish abroad
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¬†To coincide with St Patrick's Day, the Irish Bishops' Conference launches its "Supporting Irish Abroad" (SIA) campaign for 2005 next week. This year, the Bishops' Commission for Emigrants highlights the plight of the undocumented Irish living in the United States and the difficulties that they face in regularizing their status. Launching the 2005 SIA campaign, the Chairman of the Irish Episcopal Commission for Emigrants and Bishop of Derry, Dr Sťamus Hegarty said: "This year's awareness campaign focuses on the challenges facing our people who are living furtive lives in the US. Many families at home are keenly aware of this situation as it may apply to their brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces and friends. "In order to improve the plight of the documented, we are currently working with the Migration and Refugee Service of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops. The US bishops have initiated a campaign calling for immigration reform and this is based on the principles set out in their pastoral letter Strangers no Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, which was jointly published with the bishops of Mexico in 2003." Bishop Hegarty continued: "I intend to travel soon to the US to visit our immigrant pastoral centres and to meet with our chaplains and those working with Irish people. I will also discuss with my colleagues in the US Catholic Bishops' Conference how best the Irish and US bishops can work together to alleviate the plight of most vulnerable of migrants. "This year we will raise funds to support our outreach services for vulnerable Irish emigrants. These services include: volunteer outreach programmes to elders; supporting members of the Irish travelling community in the UK; increase frequency of visitations to Irish people in prisons abroad; a programme to support immigration reform in the US; and, in assisting other agencies to outreach to Irish people in need." Bishop Hegarty concluded: "On behalf of all bishops, priests and laity working with the Irish abroad I wish to sincerely thank all those who have generously supported our campaign to date. St Patrick's Day is a special time for Irish people everywhere. It is an occasion both to reach out to those who have fallen on hard times and to celebrate the positive contributions of the Irish around the world. Above all it is a time to remember in our prayers family members abroad". ō The Irish Bishops' Conference established a dedicated service in 1957 ≠ the Irish Episcopal Commission for Emigrants (IECE) ≠ to help co-ordinate support for Irish emigrants in the UK. Since that time outreach chaplaincy centres have been established in Europe, the USA and Australia. ō In February 2004 at the Irish Centre in Camden Town, Bishop Sťamus Hegarty, Chairman of the IECE, launched the Supporting Irish Abroad (SIA) campaign awareness campaign. Its focus was on the Irish living in Britain, especially in London, but who emigrated in the fifties, sixties and seventies and are now at the greatest risk in terms of their physical and mental health. ō The acronym SIA is also an Irish word meaning 'longer' or 'farther'. The emigrant is one who often feels cut of from the familiar surroundings of home. Indeed a major part of our Biblical history focuses on God's people exiled from their home land. 'How can we sing a song to the Lord in a foreign land' Ps 137:4. ō The 2005 SIA awareness campaign includes the publication and circulation of a dedicated IECE newsletter and "Who Are You Missing Poster" poster to parishes across Ireland and to Irish chaplaincies abroad. All members of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee have been sent this material which is available to download and for publication on the home page Source: Irish Catholic Media Office
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