Day of Prayer for Emigrants.
On Patrick's Day last you were asked to put your hands in your
pockets to give a little towards the work of the Irish Church with our emigrants
abroad. This you did very generously indeed to the tune of Euro 2,250. Thank you
for your generosity to that cause. You will remember it was explained at the time
how the money would be spent. Principally it would be the care of the elderly
Irish living both in England and the U.S. As we know, many are living in very
poor conditions, some victims of chronic alcoholism, or just ill and frail. Many
are lonely and abandoned. Remember their awful story as told on Prime Time? Another
aspect of the work is the provision of information, advocacy and support to Irish
prisoners in foreign prisons, over 1,000 in all, in 25 countries. The plight of
the many undocumented young Irish in the U.S. is another matter of concern.
we are asked to pray for Emigrants. We certainly know a lot about emigration in
this country for the last couple of hundred years. It would be a pity if we were
to forget the unfortunate people mentioned above just now. Also, it is important
to broaden our horizons to remember all people everywhere who, not by their own
choice, are forced to leave their homelands. Most migrants are economic migrants
but let us not forget either the refugees or all those who are forced to leave
their homes and countries as a result of war, violence and persecution.
course in Ireland today it's not principally a question of emigration but immigration.
What a change! We can't help noticing this at every hand's turn. This poses new
challenges for all of us as we learn to live with ethnic and cultural diversity.
We will have to reach out in friendship and welcome to so many newcomers. This
will truly test our traditional boast of Ireland of the Welcomes. We are now told
that foreign workers will be the engine of our economy in the future. Let us hope
and pray that all workers will be treated well and justly and that there will
be no discrimination or exploitation of people who may have language difficulties
and so on. Unfortunately, there have already been some nasty stories of this kind
of thing happening not too far from here.
One of the most sizable groups arriving
on our shores comes from Poland. I understand there are something like 50,000
Poles in Ireland at this time, a few thousand of them in Cork city and three or
four hundred of them in Macroom, some of whom work in this Parish. The Polish
people can bring a lot to us. They are formed by centuries of suffering and fidelity
to their faith. The Ireland of today can only be enriched by all these new people
from Eastern Europe and beyond. Let us not forget that it is not easy to adjust
to life in a new country with strange customs and language. We must reach out
to them. We must make them feel at home. We must pray for them.