Join me, open your arms to Migrants and Refugees – #ShareTheJourney

On Wednesday, Pope Francis led an inspiring launch of #SharetheJourney, a global, two-year campaign in support of migrants and refugees.  He opened his arms wide in a loving gesture and said, “Christ urges us to welcome our brothers and sisters with our arms truly open, ready for a sincere embrace, a loving and enveloping embrace.”

Migrants and refugees are not after our jobs, our lives or our culture.  They are looking with hope toward a brighter future for their families in collaboration and with integration into their new homeland; just as my ancestors sought the same in the mid-1700’s.  Their plight is little different from those in my family who fled war, persecution and economic hardship almost three hundred years ago.  Continue reading “#ShareTheJourney”

Pope Francis: The Only Future Worth Building Includes Everyone

For many years I have been a big fan of TED Talks.  I find that the talks generally live up to the TED slogan “Ideas Worth Sharing.”  I don’t agree with every speaker and I don’t find all of the talks equally stimulating; but I usually learn something, find a unique perspective or discover a new way to think about the world that we all live in. 

This week in something of a surprise, Pope Francis gave a talk to TED 2017 that was entitled The Only Future Worth Building Includes Everyone.   In a world that is increasingly divisive, nationalistic, partisan, and fearful, the Pope makes a strong argument that each person can be a messenger of hope and all of our individual “yous” can be come a collective “us” to address the needs of our world and time.  Regardless of your faith tradition or no faith tradition his talk is compelling and worth a 17 minute investment of time.  If you would prefer to read his comments rather than listen to them they may be found here: His Holiness Pope Francis at TED2017

Stark Choice in Syria – Become Refugees or Risk Injury and Death

Wounded 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh sits alone in the back of the ambulance after he was injured during airstrikes targeting Aleppo, Syria, on Wednesday, August 21, 2016 (Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

In January of this year I visited Greece and Serbia with a delegation from @CatholicRelief to better understand the #RefugeeCrisis in the Middle East and Europe and to witness the humanitarian relief being provided.  While there we had the opportunity to meet many refugees and aid workers.  In this blog, I have reported stories of just some of the people that we encountered.   Continue reading “Stark Choice in Syria – Become Refugees or Risk Injury and Death”

JustAScottishGirl Blog: Remembering…

A few months ago I posted from a blog written by a woman who goes by the name JustAScottishGirl.  She has spent the better part of the past 10 months working with the refugees who are coming ashore on the island of Kos, Greece.  Today she posted another poignant piece reflecting on her time there and the successes and failures she has witnessed.  It is well worth reading.

Memories are funny things, they sneak up on you when you least expect, making you feel want to have a little cry in the middle of dinner or making you burst out laughing when you are with… 

Read it all here: Remembering…

The Georgia Bulletin: The Refugee Crisis in Europe from an Eyewitness’ Perspective

Pope Francis walks with refugees as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 22.  The pope invited more than a dozen refugees to sit near him on stage during his catechesis.  CNS photo/Paul Haring

This Commentary was authored for The Georgia Bulletin and was published on July 7, 2016.  Please read the full commentary at:  Deacon Steve Swope’s Georgia Bulletin Commentary on Refugees.

#WorldRefugeeDay is Today

“Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions …  We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation.”  – Pope Francis

Today is World Refugee Day.  It is time to show world leaders that the global public stands in solidarity with the millions of refugees who have fled their homes due to war or persecution.  These are real people with families whose lives, hopes and dreams have been dramatically disrupted by conflict.  Each of us can make a difference by contacting our national leaders and asking for their support to aid refugees, work to end the conflicts that have led to their fleeing and help to return them home.  Your voice and mine can make a difference.

Refugees…Reasons Americans Should Care


A young father and his son arrive at the port in Athens, Greece.

Over the past two weeks I have been blogging about what our Catholic Relief Services Global Fellows delegation saw and did while in Greece and Serbia.  The mission was enlightening for us because nothing in the media back home really captured a sense of the refugee crisis or the humanitarian response taking place.  We heard stories of great bravery and desperation and saw aid and assistance given to people who did not expect it.  Each of us have been trying to convey to our fellow countrymen the scope of the situation, who the refugees are, why they are fleeing and the aid being provided.  I am humbled by the dedication and youth of many of the aid workers.  I am proud to report about the work done by CRS staff to help organize and support the various charitable organizations, including Caritas.  I am also somewhat amazed when a fellow American sincerely asks, “Why should Americans care, isn’t this a Middle East and European problem?

Over the next week I want to explain why I believe everyone should care, especially Americans. By ‘care’ I don’t mean adopting a position that advocates stopping the migration or ‘sending them back’ but why we should try to understand the cause for the refugee migration, aid those fleeing and actively work to see an end to the violence so Continue reading “Refugees…Reasons Americans Should Care”

Syrian Refugees – Facts, Fiction and Fear

During the past few months we have heard from politicians, Church leaders, and many others regarding the Syrian Refugee Crisis in the Balkans and Western Europe.  Unfortunately much of the discussion has been based upon murky facts or fiction and in some cases outright fear.  Are the Syrian refugees people fleeing a civil war and ISIS to protect themselves and their families, are they people looking to sneak into western society for economic gain or are they terrorists?

Young Syrian Refugees line up for school.

Some things are certain.  There are people fleeing Syria, Afghanistan, Etruria and other countries.  These people are landing in Greece and making their way through the Balkans to Europe.  Continue reading “Syrian Refugees – Facts, Fiction and Fear”