Pope Francis has shifted the Catholic Church’s annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees from January to September, the Holy See spokesman, Greg Burke said in a statement on Nov. 20.
“At the request of various Bishops’ Conferences, the Holy Father has moved the World Day of Migrants and Refugees to the last Sunday of September,” the statement read. “Thus, the next World Day of Migrants and Refugees, the 105 th will be celebrated on Sunday 29 September 2019.”
The origins of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees can be traced to 1914, a few months before the outbreak of World War I. Touched by the drama of millions of Italians who had migrated abroad since the beginning of the 20th century, Pope Pius X called on all Christians to pray for migrants. A few months later, his successor Pope Benedict XV instituted the Day of the Migrant to support spiritually and economically the pastoral work for Italian emigrants.
In 1952, Migrant Day took on a broader and more international connotation and the particular Churches were called upon to choose a date to celebrate the day during the liturgical year.
St. John Paul II was the first pontiff who, since 1985, issued a message each year drawing attention to some of the specific realities and difficulties of people on the move, calling the Church to action.
In 2004, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People extended the day to refugees calling it the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
At the behest of St. John Paul II, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees has been celebrated by the Universal Church on the 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, since 2005.
On the occasion of the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, on January 14, 2018, Pope Francis announced the change in the date of celebration which will from now be the last Sunday of September.