Catholic Immigrant Integration Initiative
CMS’s Catholic Immigrant Integration Initiative (CIII) seeks to strengthen the individual and collective work of diverse Catholic institutions, programs, and ministries with immigrants and refugees. It documents promising and successful programs in parishes, elementary schools, universities, the workplace, charities, hospitals, refugee resettlement, legal immigration, border, and other ministries.
The initiative regularly considers how to operationalize the Catholic vision for immigrant integration, which includes lifting up the gifts, contributions, and leadership of immigrants; building communion between persons from diverse cultures; promoting the common good and integral human development; and evangelizing the cultures of both natives and newcomers in light of the Gospel and Catholic teaching.
The initiative regularly considers the interplay between “signs of the times,” such as migration, climate change, the future of work, exclusionary nationalism, and racial injustice. Its annual gatherings connect often siloed agencies, including those devoted entirely to refugees and immigrants and those that serve the broader community. The diversity of participants helps to ensures that the initiative considers the needs of immigrants holistically.
CIII recognizes the overarching need for youth to engage and take leadership roles in Catholic institutions, and for Catholic leaders to reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.
It asks questions, such as: Has the Catholic Church maintained its historic identity as a church of immigrants? Do its signature institutions, which were created for and by immigrants from earlier eras, meet the diverse needs of today’s immigrants? What can the Church learn and what immigrant ministries should it consider revisiting from its past? In a relatively short period of time, it has become a unique vehicle for dialogue, new partnerships, and expanding best practices in working with immigrants and refugees.
The initiative recognizes an historic opportunity for the Catholic Church and immigrants. On the one hand, Catholic agencies can play a vital role in fostering civic participation, improving educational outcomes, and promoting the socio-economic attainment of immigrants and their families. On the other, the Catholic Church can and should embrace the full participation of immigrants in its diverse institutions. Many of these institutions are being renewed and revitalized by the gifts, contributions, and leadership of immigrants, particularly youth. CIII seeks to build upon this work.
CIII is guided by a national advisory council of representatives from national and local service-delivery networks; universities and school systems; pastoral, parish-based, and ethnic ministries; and immigrant community groups.