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Theology of Migration

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Project Description

Pioneered by Woodstock’s Director, Gasper Lo Biondo and the Migration Policy Institute's Vice President for Programs, Donald Kerwin, this project was launched by Woodstock and its partners in 2007. It brings together immigrants, academics from different disciplines, migrant service providers, theologians, and Church leaders to consider many issues related to the spirituality of migrants and the emerging theology of migration, including root causes of migration, integration of immigrants into society, and the ways in which the Church addresses the needs of migrants.

The project is driven by a desire to increase public understanding of the academic and theological foundations of the Catholic Church’s teaching on issues of migration, and to assist the Church’s ministries and its public policy work on behalf of migrants and newcomers.

2011 - 2012 Project Activities

Throughout 2011 and 2012, the Theology of Migration Project has been spread across the country through educational lectures and presentations by Associate Fellows Don Kerwin and Junior Fellow Jill Marie Gerschutz Bell. Please see below for recent and upcoming presentations:

  • Presentation on immigration enforcement and Catholic Social Teaching at the Justice for Immigrants gathering in Salt Lake City, 170 people attendees

January 12, 2012

Donald Kerwin

  • Talk on Catholic Social Teaching at the 25th anniversary of the Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Service program in El Paso, 400 people registered

January 26, 2012

Donald Kerwin

  • Celebration Conference on Effective Liturgy in Tuscon, AZ, “And You Welcomed Me: Hospitality, Eucharist and Immigration Reform”

April 11-13, 2012

Jill Marie Gerschutz Bell


Undocumented Youth Multimedia Series: In the Fall of 2011, the Theology of Migration Project in partnership with the Faith in the City and Religion and Public Policy Programs launched a series of Podcasts and other video projects exploring the experiences of undocumented young people in the U.S. from a theological perspective.

  • Visit our Vimeo site to view our Fall 2011 Podcast, Faith and Theology of Undocumented Youth with Rev. Raymond Kemp and Marco Saavedra.
  • In February 2012, Web and Multimedia Specialist and Program Assistant Marley Moynahan administered a webinar and conducted a series of interviews in the state of Alabama to examine the cultural, theological, and spiritual implications of recent anti-immigrant policies with youth and faith leaders in the region. Stay tuned for a short documentary, scheduled for release in May 2012.

Woodstock’s Collaborators

Organizations whose personnel are collaborating in the project have included:

  • Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (CLINIC), a subsidiary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • The Center for Faith & Public Life at Fairfield University
  • The Program in Latin American & Latino Studies at Loyola College in Maryland
  • GU’s Institute for the Study of International Migration
  • The U.S. Jesuit Conference
  • Catholic Common Ground Initiative
  • Just Faith Ministry
  • The national and local Justice for Immigrants campaigns


Past Events

  • March 21, 2011: Donald Kerwin speaks at "Immigration and The Church: Social and Policy Perspectives," in the Caldwell Auditorium at The Catholic University of America.
  • February 10, 2011: Donald Kerwin and Jill Marie Gerschutz presented the Woodstock Theological Center's Forum on Immigration: Honoring Human Dignity: A Catholic Approach to Migration and Immigration at Holy Family Parish in New York, New York.
  • January 14, 2011: Donald Kerwin participated in the Community Forum and Dialogue on federal and state immigration enforcement policies at the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso, Texas.
  • November 13-14, 2010: Jill Marie Gerschutz presented at the Ignatian Solidarity Network Teach-In at Georgetown University
  • October 28, 2010: Donald Kerwin gave a presentation on global migration from a faith-based perspective to the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services Board of Directors.
  • July 13, 2010: Jill Marie Gerschutz spoke on "Discerning Right Relationships: Migration and Catholic Social Teaching" as part of Archdiocese of Washington's "Theology on Tap" series. You can download an audio recording of her talk from Woodstock's web site, or from the Archdiocesan web site.
  • April 17, 2010: American University Catholic Community presentation by Jill Marie Gerschutz
  • March 26, 2010: Presentation by Donald Kerwin at the Georgetown University Leadership Seminar in the School of Foreign Service on the prospects for immigration reform
  • March 19, 2010: Talk by Donald Kerwin at Gonzaga College High School, Assembly of Faculty and Students on Catholic Social Teaching and migration. This will be in anticipation of the immigration rally the same weekend in DC.
  • Feb. 23, 2010: University of San Francisco panel discussion including Donald Kerwin and Jill Marie Gerschutz
  • Feb. 22, 2010: Santa Clara panel discussion including Donald Kerwin and Jill Marie Gerschutz
  • Jan. 30, 2010: The Catholic Book Store discussion by Jill Marie Gerschutz