Emigration continues to have a dramatic effect on our society as thousands of people travel abroad in search of new opportunities, leaving behind loved ones and creating a void in Irish families and parish communities. 81,900 people left our shores between April 2013 and April 2014.

As a Church and a people we must continue to reach out to those who are affected by migration. As we prepare to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, we remember and pray for all Irish people overseas, those who have left our shores for the first time and those who have been away for many years.

We remember the families they have left behind and pray that they will find strength and comfort as they cope with the pain of separation. We also remember those who have travelled from foreign lands to begin new lives in Ireland. We pray that they will receive the same welcome that we would wish for our own emigrants far from home.

When discussing emigration it is easy to become bogged down with facts and figures, but we must remember the human face of migration. Pope Francis reminds us of this, saying:

‘migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more’.

In addition to practical assistance, emigrants need spiritual and emotional support. The Council for Emigrants, through its chaplaincies overseas, continues to provide essential pastoral outreach to Irish emigrants as they strive to build a new life for themselves far from home.

To download the emigrants pack, please click here.

(Bishop John Kirby, 2015)