USCCB Migration and Refugee Services Celebrates 50 Years of Service

November 5, 2015 By Public Affairs Office

 WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Migration and Refugee Services (MRS), the world's largest non-governmental resettlement organization, celebrates its 50th anniversary of serving and advocating for refugees, asylees, migrants, unaccompanied children and victims of human trafficking.  

"It's so special to celebrate all we've accomplished in the last 50 years and honor the people and partners who helped us get there," said Bill Canny, executive director of USCCB's Migration and Refugee Services. "This is a key time for refugees and immigrants and we know we have a lot of work to do in the next 50 years."

Founded in 1965, MRS has assisted over one million refugees to begin new lives in the United States through its nationwide network of affiliated partner agencies; and more recently, MRS has expanded its service network to respond to the plight of thousands of unaccompanied children and victims of human trafficking. MRS has also been a leading advocate for fair and just policies, both nationally and internationally, that serve to protect and uphold the fundamental rights of migrants, immigrants, refugees, human trafficking victims, and other vulnerable persons on the move.

"Heeding Pope Francis' call, MRS strives to respond to refugees and immigrants in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal," said Canny.

To commemorate its 50th anniversary, Migration and Refugee Services will hold a full-day of celebration and awareness on Thursday, November 19. Under the theme, Interact, Worship, Celebrate, the day's events will raise funds for two mission-critical projects: providing services to unaccompanied children and fighting human trafficking.

The day will begin with a symposium featuring three expert-led panels on contemporary issues facing the Catholic Church, its agencies, and partners in the areas of refugee resettlement, immigration and unaccompanied migrant children and their families. Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, honorary chairman of the MRS 50th Anniversary Celebration, and members of the USCCB Committee on Migration will concelebrate a 5 p.m. Mass, followed by an awards ceremony.  

Special honorees are: Catholic Charities diocesan partners across the country, Sr. Norma Pimentel, director of the Humanitarian Crisis Relief Center, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, Texas; Eric Wowoh, former refugee from Liberia and founder and executive director of the Change Action Network; and Anh Joseph Cao, Esq., former refugee from Vietnam and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Louisiana.  

MRS fulfills the mission of the U.S. Catholic bishops to protect the life and dignity of the human person and represents the bishops' interests in policy formulation and communication, advocacy, education, refugee resettlement, and other specialized services to at risk and vulnerable populations.

For more information, schedule and ticket availability, visit
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Committee on Migration, family detention, unaccompanied children, refugees, immigrants, human trafficking, Bill Canny, Sr. Norma Pimentel, Catholic Charities, Eric Wowoh, Change Action Network, Joseph Cao
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Norma Montenegro Flynn
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