Migrant Sunday Mass - 24th September 17

On 24th of September 2017, the Sunday 9.00 am mass celebrated by Parish Priest Rev Fr. George Harrison, was animated by the migrants/refugees in conjunction with Migrant Sunday. The theme for this year is “Minor Migrants: Vulnerable and Voiceless”. At the entrance of the Church before the mass, the migrants were getting ready lining up according to their country of origin. As the Entrance hymn was sung, leaders carrying their respective country flag and a lit candle, walked into the Church. As the mass was in multi-lingual, the readings were read in Urdu (official national language in Pakistan) and in Filipino respectively. The Gospel text was taken from the Gospel of St. Matthew 20:1 – 16, “The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard”. In his homily, Fr. George said that God is always equal and generous to all, citing the example of the workers in the vineyard that were given 1 denarius each although some worked longer hours and some worked less. He said that in Jesus’ time, 1 denarius is equivalent to a day’s wage and it makes the worker happy. He went on to say that the workers’ in the Gospel text are liken to the marginalized, the migrants and the refugees that we see today who are in need of God’s mercy and our attention. Very often, these group of people when there are at Church attending mass, are left alone, he added.
The prayer of the faithful was said in 4 different languages and during the offertory, 5 baskets of fruits and love offering were presented to Fr. George. The Communion and Thanksgiving hymn were sung in Filipino and Urdu respectively. At the end of the mass, Fr. George invited a Pakistani migrant to share about his life here in Malaysia.

After mass, parishioners visited a mock home of a migrant set up in a mini school bus parked near the canopy located at the Grotto area. Parishioners had a look at the cooking utensils, the luggage bag that they brought with them, and the tools used at their work places among other things. Various photos and images of migrants and refugees were also displayed giving parishioners an insight of the kind of jobs they undertake – dirty, demanding and dangerous. The migrants/refugees then joined in a lunch fellowship at the church cafeteria.

The homily delivered by Fr. George echoed the same sentiment by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, “that the Church must offer “maternal love” to migrants and refugees and that helping them was a “privileged occasion to proclaim Jesus Christ.The Holy Father said the Church will remain true to its mission, as stated in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2015: “of loving Jesus Christ, adoring and loving Him, particularly in the poorest and most abandoned; included among them, certainly, are migrants and refugees”.

The Migrants Ministry of the Church of The Visitation, Seremban is headed by David Nunis and comes under the umbrella of the Ministry of Integral Human Development (PMIHD) headed by Patricia Lee.

As a disciple of Jesus, we must be creative, inclusive and make every effort to establish communication and a friendly contact (bridge building) in order to make them – the migrants and refugees, feel welcomed and part of the Visitation family. Remember the biblical event of the flight into Egypt? Soon after the visit by the Magi, who has learned that King Herod intended to kill the infants of that area, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to tell him to flee to Egypt with Mary and infant son Jesus. (Matthew 2:13-23). Jesus and his parents were refugees too!  

Photos by Parish of Visitation Social Communication