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PORT DICKSON – The 7th Annual Conference of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants (EMI) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (CBC-MSB) was held at the Marist Brothers Campagnat Youth Centre, Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan 7-10 May.
Twenty participants of the incoming and outgoing EMI members from across the region attended the 4-day event. Sr Maria Dipal rgs and Shirley Joseph, Chairperson and Secretary of the Diocesan Human Development Commission represented the Diocese of Sandakan, while Sr Anita James fsic attended from the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu.
The conference began with an Opening Mass celebrated by Fr Arin Sugit from the Apostolic Vicariate of Brunei Darussalam.
On the second day, Mark Goh, a lawyer by profession and currently serving as the Chairperson of the Archdiocesan Commission for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ACMI), Singapore presented the summary report on the trafficking position paper discussion.
After the presentation, there was a Q&A session. Members came up with a proposed EMI Trafficking Position statement which will be presented to the CBC-MSB for consideration in July 2015.
The next session was ‘Volunteer Management’ facilitated by Michael Charles Loh, a Founder Member and Chairman of the Managing and Organizing Volunteer Efforts, Executive Director of Catholic AIDS Response Effort and a Member of Caritas Singapore Volunteer Resource Committee, touching on how to work with volunteers.
The next slot was the presentation of the annual reports from all participating arch/ dioceses.
The annual report from EMI Executive Committee (2013-15) covers an introductory background to the Diocesan Migrant Ministry, activities carried out at the parish and diocesan level for 2014, planned activities at parish and diocesan level for 2015 and key areas on the development of the Migrant Ministries.
The third day began with the presentation of reports. After the session, EMI Commission Members in prearranged groups for the Exposure Trip visited the Myanmar refugee families at a few venues in Pudu (pic) and Lok Yew, Kuala Lumpur. They had lunch together and were engaged in informal conversation. The exposure had enlightened members the reality of life as a refugee in Malaysia.
The new EMI-MSB Executive Committee for the term 2015-2017;
1. Chairperson: Peter Barnabas (Diocese of Penang)
2. Vice-Chairperson: Josephine Tey (Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur)
3. Secretary: Ken Chua (Diocese of Melaka-Johor)
4. Treasurer: Sr Angeline Lau rgs (Diocese of Melaka-Johor)
5. Core Team:
a) Jeremy Khoo (Archdiocese of Singapore)
b) Fr Arin Sugit (Apostolic Vicariate of Brunei)
c) Fr Alvin Ng (Archdiocese of Kuching)
On the fourth and final day, the new executive committee held a discussion session on EMI Planner for the period of May 2015-April 2016.
The Closing Mass was presided over by Bishop Paul Tan, concelebrated by Fr Alvin Ng and Fr Charlie Oasan.
At the conclusion of Mass, Bishop Paul Tan, on behalf of the CBC-MSB, thanked all EMI Commission Members for what they have done to alleviate the plight of the migrant workers, which in fact is an integral component of the Catholic Church. He also cited Pope Francis’ Message for the 101th World Day of Migrants and Itinerants, themed ‘Church without frontiers, Mother to all’. He urged members to continue to reach out to the vulnerable migrants and refugees with unconditional acceptance. The prelate congratulated and thanked the members for their sacrifice in extending a hand to help them overcome the most difficult moment of their lives.
Dil, a Nepalese migrant worker, was asked to share his life testimony. He migrated to Malaysia almost 12 years ago to find a better life. His life before was miserable. He came from a poor and broken family in Nepal. His father was addicted to gambling and they lost their family’s house and lands.
After having migrated to Malaysia, he got into bad company and soon he became an alcoholic and a gambler. He was not able to save his salary because he spent it all on alcohol and entertainment. For this reason, he was not able to remit money home. His relationship with his parents got worse.
After changing work a few times, while working as a construction worker, he befriended a Christian colleague who often attend church. He started following his friend to church and participated in church activities. When he read the Bible, he realized that his life then was on the wrong path.
He then became a different person after he received Christ into his life. He managed to reconcile with his family in Nepal. He was able to send them some money from his salary and also bought a new house and a parcel of land. He has established his own family, a good job and a happy life. He hoped that his family members will also accept Christ in their lives.
At the end of Mass, participants received a candle each with the 4L wordings engraved: Last, Lost, Least and Little, as a symbolic sign of the call to be the Love, Peace, Joy, Hope and Voice for the suffering migrants and itinerants. – DOSPO, DS/SJ