USCCB leaders seek prayers for migrants, refugees on Guadalupe feast

A statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe sits on a stage during a Nov. 19 Mass celebrated near the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Tijuana, Mexico. The Mass and a procession with a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe were a call to remember and pray for migrants and were led by Archbishop Francisco Moreno Barron of Tijuana. (CNS photo/David Maung)
A statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe sits on a stage during a Nov. 19 Mass celebrated near the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Tijuana, Mexico. The Mass and a procession with a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe were a call to remember and pray for migrants and were led by Archbishop Francisco Moreno Barron of Tijuana. (CNS photo/David Maung)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Prayer services and special Masses will be held in many dioceses across the country as the U.S. Catholic Church has asked that the Dec. 12 feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe be a day of prayer with a focus on migrants and refugees.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the Americas.

“As Christmas approaches and especially on this feast of Our Lady, we are reminded of how our savior Jesus Christ was not born in the comfort of his own home, but rather in an unfamiliar manger,” said a Dec. 1 statement from Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The day of prayer is intended to be a time to place before a merciful God the hopes, fears and needs of all those families who have come to the United States seeking a better life.

A statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe is unloaded from a truck after a Nov. 19 procession to the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Tijuana, Mexico, where Mass was celebrated. The Mass and a procession with a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe were a call to remember and pray for migrants and were led by Archbishop Francisco Moreno Barron of Tijuana. (CNS photo/David Maung)
A statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe is unloaded from a truck after a Nov. 19 procession to the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Tijuana, Mexico, where Mass was celebrated. The Mass and a procession with a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe were a call to remember and pray for migrants and were led by Archbishop Francisco Moreno Barron of Tijuana. (CNS photo/David Maung)

“So many families are wondering how changes to immigration policy might impact them,” Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB vice president, said in a Dec. 1 statement. “We want them to know the church is with them, offers prayers on their behalf, and is actively monitoring developments at the diocesan, state, and national levels to be an effective advocate on their behalf.”

The appearance of Mary to indigenous peasant St. Juan Diego in 1531 near present-day Mexico City is depicted in a stained-glass window at St. Mary Church in Manhasset, N.Y. The feast of St. Juan Diego is celebrated Dec. 9, three days before the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec. 12. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
The appearance of Mary to indigenous peasant St. Juan Diego in 1531 near present-day Mexico City is depicted in a stained-glass window at St. Mary Church in Manhasset, N.Y. The feast of St. Juan Diego is celebrated Dec. 9, three days before the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec. 12. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

The USCCB suggested that Catholics unable to attend such a service or Mass Dec. 12 or who live in an area where one is not being held should “offer prayers wherever they may be.” The USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services office has developed a scriptural rosary called “Unity in Diversity” that includes prayers for migrants and refugees. It can be accessed at the Justice for Immigrants website. The rosary is also available in Spanish.

Another resource suggested by the USCCB is “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope,” the 2003 pastoral letter issued jointly by the bishops of the United States and Mexico. Summary versions of the pastoral are available online in English and in Spanish.

A USCCB announcement on the day of prayer said the bishops’ conference would develop additional pastoral resources.

“To all those families separated and far from home in uncertain times, we join with you in a prayer for comfort and joy this Advent season,” Cardinal DiNardo added.