Public Statement World Day for Migrants and Refugees - Sept. 29


Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada Mark World Day for Migrants and Refugees

 Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada and around the world have spent many years working and forming relationships with migrants, refugees, and trafficked persons.  In that time, we’ve learned much about the gift of each person’s life, the hardships they’ve endured, the exploitation they’ve encountered, and the strength with which they begin to make a new life for themselves. 

 According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, one person is forcibly displaced every two seconds.  An estimated 70.8 million people are now forcibly displaced from their home by conflict, persecution, natural disasters (some of which are linked to the climate emergency) and severe economic exclusion.  Their journeys are filled with risks, threats, exploitation and violence. And, as a small percentage make their way to Canada, they open our eyes to what’s happening beyond our borders.

 As a nation, we’ve had a complex, shifting relationship with these global struggles and the people impacted by them.  At times we’re disengaged as we watch tragedies unfold on the television; other times we hear personal stories of survival and find our compassion.  At times we’re smug in the realization that we don’t have to deal with the same level of violence in our land; other times we’re horrified with local eruptions of racism, xenophobia and hate crimes.  At times we’re generous in reaching out to newly-arrived refugee families; other times we become hardened when it seems we might need to change.  At times we celebrate our national diversity; other times we worry newcomers aren’t integrating well enough into the mainstream.  It’s a struggle of conscience, a struggle for our collective soul, and we’d do well to pay attention to our shifting responses.

 In his 2019 letter marking the September 29th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis laments the “globalization of indifference” and highlights migrants, refugees, displaced and trafficked persons as “emblems of exclusion.”  His call urges us to reflect critically on our response to people in precarious situations and puts the spotlight on the harmful social, political and economic structures which result from collective indifference.

 We have too easily ignored our complicity in creating the factors which lead to forced displacement, be it natural disasters related to the climate emergency (to which, per capita, we are some of the highest contributors), the sale of armoured vehicles to oppressive countries, or a refusal to meet our agreed-upon financial responsibilities for international development.  We have overlooked the way temporary work permits for migrant workers makes them more vulnerable to exploitation, unsafe working conditions, inadequate housing, sexual abuse and unfair pay.  We have created structural discrimination through policies which reduce migrant access to health care, legal services, and educational opportunities.  

 To move beyond this indifference as a nation, we call on the Government of Canada to:

  •  Sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, a critical tool in the protection of the rights of all migrant workers. 

  • Stop all subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and increase support for alternative energy development in order to respond more urgently to the climate emergency which is already contributing to the devastation of communities and forced displacement people. 

  • End the immigration detention of children.   

  • Enable faster family reunification for refugees and live-in caregivers

  • Create a clear path to permanent residency for migrant workers and work with the provinces to strengthen labour protections for all.

 Migration issues are complex and multifaceted but the need to respond with policies of compassion and justice is clear.  Global solidarity deepens our humanity and helps to create a world in which everyone has an opportunity to flourish.

 A letter  and message from Pope Francis with a link to background materials for the day. (9 pages)




To Care for God's Good Earth

At this time of the year we often think ahead to wrapping gifts in readiness for Christmas. What we don’t always think about is that much of the paper we use for gift-wrapping is not recyclable and gift wrap constitutes a vast amount of the paper we use. So we add here some helpful thoughts for wrapping gifts this year as we seek to find small and practical ways to care for God’s gift of the Earth just as we care for one another.

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Bereaved Mothers Weekend

This ministry seeks to create a safe and sacred place for parents to “undress their hearts” before the Creator and others who know and feel their pain. Within this loving circle of support ‘a new day dawns for those who weep’ and ‘their tears are turned into dancing’ … quite literally … as the weekend often incorporates sacred circle dancing into its prayer services, workshops, meditations and candle lighting.

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What Plants Talk About

When we think about plants, we don't often associate a term like "behavior" with them, but experimental plant ecologist JC Cahill wants to change that. The University of Alberta professor maintains that plants do behave and lead anything but solitary and sedentary lives. What Plants Talk About teaches us all that plants are smarter and much more interactive than we thought!

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A Failed Promise and God’s Promise

In the world of vegetable production, purveyors of GM seeds promised great things for the global community, trumpeting there would be greater food production and reduced pesticide use in a relatively short time. GM seeds were the answer for a starving world. This was in the late 80’s -90’s. Canada and United States bought into that message. Western Europe did not.

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Spiritual Direction

Within each of us lies the desire to find meaning beyond the discover our true grow closer to God and to one another. A spiritual director can help you to satisfy that longing.

What is Spiritual Direction?

Spiritual direction, also known as Spiritual Companioning, is a gentle, non-judgemental process of Holy Listening to recognize how God is being revealed in your life. In this process, you are free to express questions, name doubts, sort through decisions, experience mystery and the call to engagement in the world.

Spiritual Direction invites a deeper relationship with the spiritual aspects of being human. While it may be appropriate at time to discuss personal and relational struggles in the context of spiritual direction, a spiritual director is neither a psychotherapist, a moral advisor, not a counselor, but one who has received training to accompany you on a specific spiritual journey to discover God’s presence in the daily experiences of your life.

The director is not there to supply answers, but to suggest questions for the directee to think and pray about.

When would I seek Spiritual Direction

  • When you are experiencing a new sense of God in your life…
  • When you are feeling distant from God…
  • When you are facing an important decision or discernment…
  • When you are facing a change or transition in your life…
  • When you are feeling fragmented, disinterested, out of touch, fearful or angry…
  • When you are involved in ministry within your faith community…
  • When you desire growth in prayer and growth in compassion…

… then Spiritual Direction may be something for you to consider

Spiritual Direction at Villa St Joseph Ecology and Spirituality Centre

If you would like to engage in on-going Spiritual Direction with a member if the Villa team, please call the Villa.  An initial interview will be arranged. At that time, you can discuss your hope and expectations, and ask questions. The companioning takes place in the context of confidential one-on-one sessions which are usually scheduled about once a month, but vary according to individual needs. Should you decide to continue, the suggested offering is $40.00 per session; however, this is negotiable.

Spiritual Direction is also available as an option during our retreats here at Villa St Joseph Ecology and Spirituality Centre. It is recommended that, if you wish to take advantage of this opportunity, you request it in advance. The suggested offering of $20.00 per session will be added to the cost of the retreat.

If you would like on-going direction and live too far to travel monthly, please inquire about other centres that offer similar opportunities.