The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

Day of Prayer for Refugees and Migrants

"The Holy Family had to face concrete problems like every other family, like so many of our migrant brothers and sisters who, today too, risk their lies to escape misfortune and hunger." Pope Francis, Patris Corde, 2020

A Day of Prayer for Refugees and Migrants is set aside each year to fall as close as possible to World Refugee Day on 20 June. Caritas prepares resources for this day on behalf of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference

In 2021, the Day of Prayer for Refugees and Migrants falls on 20 June, the twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time. 

Pope Francis has drawn our attention back to the Holy Family when discussing migrant and refugee issues. He likens the Holy Family’s experience of fleeing to Egypt to the journey that countless refugees and migrants must take. Much like the experience of the child Jesus from the persecution from King Herod, Pope Francis reminds us that “half of today’s refugees in the world are children, blameless victims of human injustice” (Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to Performers and Organisers of the Christmas Concert, 2018). 


Saint Joseph as the special patron of all those forced to leave their native lands because of war, hatred, persecution and poverty. 

In Pope Francis’ apostolic letter Patris Corde (2020) on the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of St Joseph as patron of the universal Church, Francis proclaimed it to be the Year of St Joseph and considered Joseph to be “the special patron of all those forced to leave their native lands because of war, hatred, persecution and poverty.”  

Francis describes St Joseph as a man on a journey as he was instructed by an angel in a dream to take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-23). Francis reaffirms Joseph’s courage in how God entrusted Joseph with the most precious treasures of our faith – Jesus Christ and Mary his Mother.  

With millions of displaced persons in the world, we see that there are countless modern-day Josephs who have fled their home alongside their families. Most especially in this Year of St Joseph, we look to Jesus’ earthly father as an example of complete trust and courage. 

Caritas Internationalis’ Share the Journey 

In September 2017, Caritas Internationalis launched their global campaign on the culture of encounter in the context of global migration, named Share the Journey (STJ). At the heart of STJ was Pope Francis’ call for building a culture of encounter. The focus of the campaign has been for Caritas member organisations, including Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, to run initiatives together with migrant and former refugees to strengthen the bonds within the communities. The 4 yearlong campaign promoted hope and the possibility of unity with migrants and refugees on a personal, community and global level encouraging concrete action in favour of migrants and refugees. 

On this Day of Prayer for Refugees and Migrants 2021, Caritas Internationalis are closing this campaign. Light a virtual candle of hope in solidarity with millions of forcibly displaced from their homes worldwide and show support on social media in the days leading up to World Refugee Day (20th June). You are invited to light a virtual candle by clicking here:

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Tutu ana te puehu - Stirring up the dust