Building the future with migrants
- Oct 19, 2022
On Sept 25, 2022, 500 faithful in their ethnic dress, from kimonos, hanboks and baro’t saya to saris, gathered to celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) at the Church of St Bernadette (CSB), organised by the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants & Itinerant People (ACMI).
The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal William Goh and concelebrated by spiritual director of ACMI Friar Francisco Jude Basnayake, assistant parish priest of CSB Fr Dinil Abraham, and chaplains of the 11 migrant communities in the Archdiocese.
Also present at the Mass were Dr Emmanuel R Fernandez, Chargé d’ Affaires, a.i. and Consul General of the Philippines Embassy and Mr Yosep Tutu, Head of Protocol and Consular of the Indonesia Embassy, as well as ACMI board members, trustees and staff.
Cardinal Goh explained that building a new heaven and new earth where righteousness abounds means living a life of charity where everyone in this world will have a share of the planet’s wealth and resources and live as a united family of God.
Referring to the day’s Gospel on the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), Cardinal Goh pointed out that the rich man’s sin was his indifference to Lazarus’ suffering. He reminded the faithful of the merits and blessings they possess because of the support, opportunities and sacrifices of the many in the community. The same is true of the success of Singapore, which has benefitted from migrants who bring their new knowledge and expertise. He added, “With migrants, the Church in Singapore is so diverse, colourful, and rich in culture and traditions. The different migrant communities bring their strong faith and devotion, and this exchange has enriched our faith.”
He encouraged religious, corporate and political leaders to promote peace, harmony and mutual respect among those under their charge. “Be inclusive and always be available and generous with your time and talents to help others grow and flourish, especially the migrants. Only then will we be able to build God’s Kingdom where fraternity may flourish.”
Aurora Corbellini, 17, who presented the gifts before the Mass on behalf of the Italian Catholic Community, felt encouraged and hoped that everyone would recognise the sacredness of human life and would treat one another, especially migrants with dignity and respect.
New migrant support centre
That same afternoon, ACMIconnect @ Zion at CSB was officially opened by Cardinal Goh. A first of its kind, the migrant support centre offers services like counselling, skills development courses, wellness workshops and case management. ACMI hopes that the new centre will allow migrants to access support and assistance easily to make them feel welcomed, safe, included, and valued in the community. All migrants can seek counselling, case management, information and referral services at no cost.
ACMI chose to start their centre at CSB as it noticed a high number of migrants within the area, including migrant domestic workers. Besides offering services to support the migrants, ACMI hopes to identify and empower migrant leaders with skills to give back and be active members of society. Like this collaboration with CSB, they expect to pursue more partnerships with other parishes. The next centre, ACMIconnect @ Ophir, will open at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in 2023.
Youths reach out
As part of their Values-In-Action programme and WDMR in Sept, Primary 6 students from CHIJ Our Lady of Good Counsel contributed 140 sets of personalised thank-you cards, keychains and magnets to migrant domestic workers. The latter are taking courses at ACMI Skills Development.
On Sept 16, another group of Secondary 3 students from CHIJ St Theresa’s Convent packed over 300 goodie bags and appreciation cards for the construction workers living at the construction site at Mandai Road. Teachers, Ministry of Manpower’s Assurance Care Management (ACE) Group and ACMI staff distributed the goodies to the workers.
Indeed, Jacob Soo, ACMI’s Executive Director, said, “It is not enough to do good alone. We need to come together as a community bringing our gifts, talents, resources and all the blessings that God has given us to reach out to those less fortunate than us and who need our help and assistance to spend time and connect with them.”
Published on Catholic News on Oct 19, 2022.