On 2 July 2022, the Department of Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees of the Catholic Archdiocese of Johannesburg, South Africa, organised a workshop for Pastoral Care representatives in parishes. The workshop was in line with Archbishop Buti Tlhagale’s recommendation of appointing a representative of pastoral care for migrants and refugees in every parish within the archdiocese. Those who attended the workshop were able to understand what is their mission within the parish and how to work and journey with migrants and refugees.
Rev. Fr. Jean-Marie Did’Ho Kuzituka, the Episcopal Vicar for migrants and refugees, started the workshop with an introduction of the biblical foundation of migration, stressing that migration in the Biblical narrative is about enabling human beings-God’s people to find a place they can be able to worship Him. When we read the Bible, he said, we come across many important themes such as salvation, forgiveness, love, peace, unity, etc., but another relevant theme is Migration. The history of the Bible is a migration story. From the Old to the New Testament, we read about the stories of migration. From Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses to Jesus, Joseph and Mary, all found themselves on the move, migrating looking for safety and security. Migration therefore becomes a central theme in the Bible because it is in the nature of human beings to be on the move. Quoting the book of Hebrews 13, Fr. Jean-Marie encouraged parish representatives not to fear migrants and refugees as we can learn and be enriched by them.
After highlighting the biblical foundation of migration, Fr. Jean-Marie spoke about what should be the profile of a parish representative. A person who works with migrants and refugees is called to availability, to have good communication skills, to be creative, confident, honest, humble. He also insisted that the pastoral ministry to migrants and refugees could not be done in the parish without the support of the Parish Priest as well as the Parish Pastoral Council. He requested parish representatives to work closely with the Parish Priest and to remain in contact with the archdiocesan office. Present at the workshop were also some Parish Priests who accompanied their Parish Representatives.
Parish Pastoral Care Representatives were very pleased to take part in the workshop and expressed their desire to have quarterly these kinds of workshops to help improve their ministry in parishes. At the end of the workshop, some working materials were given to all. The books contained useful information about social, education and health organisations where to refer migrants and refugees in need.
The Department of Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees of the Catholic Archdiocese of Johannesburg expresses its gratitude to all the Parish Priests who attended the workshop or sent a parish representative to attend it. The Department also prays and hopes that the next workshop will see an even much bigger number of participants.
Sr. Marizete Garbin, MSCS