Migrants and Refugees Challenge Us.
The Response of the Gospel of Mercy
"At times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives... Today, more than in the past, the Gospel of mercy troubles our consciences.”
- Pope Francis
Bull of indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Misericordiae Vultus.
- Pope Francis
Bull of indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Misericordiae Vultus.
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
PRESIDENT’S 2016 MIGRANT SUNDAY MESSAGE
Greetings in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ!
His Holiness Pope Francis invites us to reflect on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees’s theme “Migrants and Refugees Challenge Us. The Response of the Gospel of Mercy”,
How do we view the foreign workers and refugees amongst us? Just like the Roman Empire, The Malaysian economy is heavily dependent on migrant labour.
According to the Human Resources Minister, Dato Richard Riot, there are around 6.7 million migrant workers in the country inclusive of over 4 million undocumented migrant workers.
Only a few are willing to talk about the good things & the blessings the migrant workers & refugees bring to our lives, to our economy, in the running of businesses.
And their presence are felt in the construction, manufacturing, agriculture, plantations, service industry and households.
Can we be oblivious to them and their contribution? Can we pass each other without a nod nor an acknowledgement? Do we have the courage to admit that they are our new neighbours? The migrants and refugees are our new friends and new neighbours.
In this very mobile world, our children are migrants in foreign lands. We want them to be included, to be respected and treated well. So let us do likewise.
Can our parishes become centres to integrate all peoples? Can our BECs create awareness of the migrants and refugees and their plight in our neighbourhood?
What parish activities can promote the building of migrant communities? Do we still ask “who is my neighbour”?
May we be moved by the mercy shown us by individuals and people, and above by the Merciful Father in sharing ourselves and our Samaritan response to these new neighbours in our midst.
Together Building His Kingdom,
Rt. Rev. Bishop Bernard Paul,
Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants (EMI)
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei.
MIGRANT SUNDAY RECEPTION WELCOME SPEECH BY ACMI CHAIRMAN, MR MARK GOH
Your Grace, Archbishop William Goh,
Rev Fr Clifford Augustine,
Friends, and fellow workers,
Brothers and sisters.
Thank you, everyone, especially Your Grace, for the support in the work of this Commission for the pastoral care of migrants and itinerant people. The simplest definition of "migrants" means anyone who has left one place to go to another place for work. Today, through better regulations and standards, many of our migrant workers arrive better skilled and more are housed in dormitories with essential facilities provided. We look forward to the new details to be released by the Ministry of Manpower on these regulations the workers' dormitories (The Straits Times, page B2, 25 August 2016).
Foreigners in Singapore's labour force have a very significant impact in our economy, across many sectors, and in our homes, where so many of us continue to rely on our helpers to get through the day. But Singapore offers a great opportunity for all foreigners who come to our shores to learn about our way of life, to live harmoniously together as one community. And this is exactly what Jesus called us to be, as one Church (Acts 2:44-47), of all peoples gathered in His Name in fellowship, in learning, in the "breaking of bread" and in prayer (Acts 2:44).
As a country, and as a Church, we surely have parts to play. Let's ask what can employers in the corporate sector do? Migrant workforce development activities can be great corporate social responsibility projects. Corporate professionals can dedicate a portion of their time as trainers in skills development programmes such as those run by ACMI. This will allow for more programmes to offer vocational, educational, and pastoral courses for domestic helpers, foreign spouses, and dormitory residents. We invite all CSR, corporate trainers, and HR managers to consider partnering with ACMI on these projects which can be run in fully equipped facilities such as what we have at Agape Village. (ACMI will be reaching out to corporate professionals, companies and employers for "show and tell" on Saturday, from 10.30 am to 4 pm, 19 November 2016, at Agape Village's First Anniversary Open House, to explain how such partnerships can work.)
Yet, there are still gaps in the widely cast net to care for foreigners whose lives are also closely bonded with those of their Singapore children. This is about foreign spouses who have limited resources after a divorce or separation, or sometimes death or abandonment, and they have to take care of their Singaporean children. They are not easily granted access to employment and housing and extended visas to remain in Singapore to care for these very young Singaporeans. This breaking up of the family can put great stress on the parent, and the Singaporean children. We will continue to press for the authorities to review the processes related to the custody and care of these Singaporean children. These foreign spouses need help to maintain the essential family bond, which our country so greatly treasures as a fundamental unit of society, and provide them means for employment and shelter for their families.
Moving forward, our Commission endeavours to build communities that centre on the development of the whole human person, and nurture growth in confidence and compassion, so that each one may have a better chance of realising their potential as children of the same Father, who taught us to love, by loving us first (1 John 4:19, "We love because he first loved us.").
Thank you, each and every one, for your gift of yourselves in service of ACMI.
May the Lord continue to bless you and your families.
SINGAPORE PARISH RESOURCES
The Migrant Sunday Parish Toolkit for Singapore describes a framework for parish groups to develop activities as part of their ministry to migrants and to build an integrated community, as one Church.
Click here to view pictures of Migrant Sunday on our Facebook page:
27 September 2015, at Divine Mercy Church.
28 September 2014, at St Joseph's Church, Bukit Panjang.
29 September 2013, at Church of St Stephen.
30 September 2012, at Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Should our parish organise our own Migrant Sunday celebration?
Parishes are encouraged to dedicate one of the masses on that day to celebrate in Thanksgiving the gift of migrants to our country. Where migrants are already well integrated into the community of our parishes, we have achieved the sense of being one Church.
How can we deepen the harmonious integration of migrants into our Church?
Firstly, the people of God in the richness of our diversity should freely assemble and worship as one community. People must feel comfortable to meet, mingle, interact and engage. This process begins first with giving and receiving. Deepening the integration of foreign Catholics just requires openness and some effort.
What activities can my parish do to celebrate the universal character of the Church?
To celebrate a characteristic is not to suppress it: we can encourage contact and interaction to better engage and involve the migrant Catholic into our work and activities. The foreigner also has to respect the local customs in order to contribute meaningfully as a member of the same family of God.
Can we invite migrants or refugees to attend the Sunday celebration if they are not Catholic?
Non-Catholics are not barred from attending the Migrant Sunday mass but there must be clear announcements that only Catholics are allowed to receive communion. The typical Migrant Sunday celebration is normally organized in two parts – the mass followed by a fellowship or reception. It may be useful for them to be given some idea of the celebration, which is a public act of worship to God, and therefore a very solemn occasion for believers.
Should the parish publicise the event?
Yes! Publicise the event using posters, banner and through any other channels including social network options such as Facebook, Blogs or Twitter. Write a short story and send them to your parish media coordinator or The Catholic News, or Hai Sing Pao. Stories of parish efforts go a long way in creating awareness on how the Church is reaching out to migrants and refugees in their vicinity.
Where can the organising team turn to for support?
If the parish migrant ministries (PMM) or pastoral team have any concerns, doubts, questions or request for migrant Sunday program, kindly contact us at 68017392.
How would the Migrant Sunday celebration be funded?
The event is funded by the parish, and can be modest or more elaborate depending on the congregation and size of the migrant community you want to engage.
What if there are no migrants or refugees in the parish?
Migrant Sunday can still be celebrated in the parish even if there are no migrants. The parish can pray for all migrants and refugees in the country or by creating awareness of their presence in the country and the world. In Singapore, the presence of migrant Catholics among worshippers is more obvious today than before. Refugees may not be known or seen among us, mainly because their status is usually a private matter and not often publicised.
Efforts should be made by the parish migrant ministry (or other lay apostolate ministries) to reach out to migrants and refugees in their community through outreach work to dormitories, e.g. encouraging volunteerism to help out in ACMI's programmes and activities. Visit: http://www.acmi.org.sg/be-a-befriender.html
What are the objectives of the Migrant Sunday Celebration?
• To celebrate the positive presence of migrants and refugees in our midst
• To create awareness on the need to respond to migrants and refugees
• To state the position of the church on issues affecting migrants and refugees
• To provide an opportunity for parishioners to interact with migrants and refugees in the parish.
Who should form part of the Migrant Sunday organising team?
Parish migrant ministry (PMM) - if there is one - or other related pastoral ministries or lay apostolate, or other persons who can contribute in a tangible way to the Migrant Sunday event. The leaders from the foreign community should be part of the organising team. The organising team must at all times keep the parish priest informed of any progress and seek his consent wherever necessary.