Since 1914, when the Catholic Church established the World Day for Migrants and Refugees, every year it is celebrated throughout the world. This year 2019, upon the initiative of the Diocese coordinated by the Catholic Pastoral care for Philippine migrants, here in Macau the celebration took place on Sunday, 27th of October. The venue was Saint Paul School.
His Excellency Stephen Lee, the bishop of Macau, began the program of activities in the morning with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist at the school main auditorium. Ten priests from different nationalities, Orders and Congregations, concelebrated with him.
Before the Mass there was an entrance procession, led by migrants from several nationalities present in Macau, to the image of Our Lady placed near the stage, while a song was performed by a Philippines choir. It was a sign and expression of trust in our Mother Mary, our refuge. To our Lady we brought our worries, our difficulties and problems, trusting always in her. Then we proceeded with the Mass, which was attended by more than a thousand people from different nationalities who reside in Macau, as well as by local people. The main choir members for this Mass were the Dominican Brothers and Sisters.
During the homily, the Bishop talked about the challenges that migrants face in Macau. He said something like this: You may feel excluded and mistreated by the local people, and so forth, but remember you are Christians, children of God; therefore, you should not retaliate these things to them because God never excludes or mistreats you. Moreover, you may worry about your families or feel isolated and lonely because of being away from your family and from your own countries, but remember that you are here with a mission, working to support your family and help the local people to become more charitable. Bishop cited an example he had seen. A family started to be converted to the faith because the housemaid brought their children to Sunday school. The children shared their faith with their parents and eventually they were converted. If I am too exaggerated, the Bishop said, you are not only migrants: you are missionaries; therefore your role is to shine with your faith.
After the Mass, lunch break: an agape-fellowship was served with cuisines from Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia and the Philippines. Moreover, the Brazilian community also brought cakes for dessert.
At 1:30 pm we gathered again in Saint Paul School auditorium for the performances of the different artists in representation of 11 countries and communities, including Portugal, Brazil, East Timor and Venezuela. All in all there were 150 performers. Some nationalities performed some of their traditional dances, such as Burmese bamboo dancing, Indonesian dancing, etc. Other groups sang and danced, reflecting in their singing and dancing different life-styles of society nowadays. For instance, some people travel by air while others had to walk barefoot on the ground. Some people seem to be happy, while others are depressed with the difficulties and problems that they face in their lives; some people seem to be satisfied with what they have, while others are never satisfied, and so on.
In conclusion, the World Day for Migrants and refugees remind us that we may have many different cultures and languages but we all belong to one human race. Hence, we should not exclude anyone from our society, whether he or she is newly arrived or permanent resident, because God never excludes anyone. This day is not only for migrants but it is for all of us to come together and celebrate the day of our humanity.
Happy World Day Migrants to all!
By Agostinho Mendonca OP