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CMI hosts parish-level Migrant Sunday observance

The presenters of gifts in their colourful attire stand ready for the Presentation of Gifts.
The presenters of gifts in their colourful attire stand ready for the Presentation of Gifts.

BUKIT PADANG – The Church of Mary Immaculate (CMI) here hosted the second parish-level observance of Migrant Sunday recently.

The local observance of Migrant Sunday for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei falls on Sept 25.  However, each diocese and parish are free to observe it on any Sunday in September and October.  For KK Archdiocese, the observance at archdiocesan level will be on 16 Oct 2016 at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Kota Kinabalu while the parish-level for the cathedral was hosted by its subparish of CMI on Sept 4.

Archbishop John Wong presided at the Mass concelebrated with Fr Max Hontor and visiting Filipino priest Fr Jose Litigio ofm.  Members of the Filipino, Indonesian and Korean communities took part in the liturgy as readers and gift presenters, attired in their national costumes.  A seven-minute video clip containing the pope’s message and the EMI message was screened before Mass.

In his address to the congregation, the prelate echoed the message from Bishop Bernard Paul, the new president of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants (EMI):

How do we view the foreign workers and refugees amongst us? …there are around 6.7 million migrant workers in the country inclusive of over four million undocumented migrant workers. Only a few are willing to talk about the good things and the  blessings the migrant workers and refugees bring to our lives, to our economy, and in the running of our businesses.  In this very mobile world, our children are migrants in foreign lands.  We want them to be included, to be respected and treated well.  So let us do likewise. (CS, 4 Sept 2016)

The prelate also pointed out the theme of the observance – Migrants and Refugees Challenge Us.  The Response of the Gospel of Mercy – in his brief remarks at the start of the fellowship at the canteen after the Mass.

During the fellowship, representatives from the Indonesian and Filipino communities shared the difficulties and challenges they faced when they first came to Sabah.

Bernadus Boli came to Sabah from Indonesia in 1996.  He decided to follow his brother-in-law because his parents had no money to pay for his studies.  He worked as a gardener, security guard and as a farmer.  But he never gave up his dream for higher studies.  In 2006 he was able to get a scholarship from Germany to study at Universiti Tun Abdul Razak, taking a degree in management major in leadership.  However, after graduation he had no job.  But, he managed to operate a photocopy shop with a friend.  In 2010 he was able to get a job teaching at an Indonesian migrant school.

Junie P Maturan came from Zamboanga City Philippines in 1985.  He is married with three children.  He came to Sabah for better work prospects.  It was not difficult for him to find work as a kitchen personnel as there were many restaurants needing kitchen staff.  However, it was not easy for him due to racial and cultural differences, loneliness and language problems.

“The most difficult problem to handle was immigration because migrants were not welcomed especially by the authorities.  I was always afraid to go out.  I was hiding because I was not free to move from one side to the other in this country.  It was not until 1987 that a Banci was issued to me.  That document made me happy and hopeful because a Banci holder could later be given the IC Merah.  In 1989 the mercy of God came into my life when the Philippine government had an amnesty programme: the issuance of passports to those who did not have it.  Soon I got my passport and my boss assumed responsibility by sponsoring me,” said Maturan.

Later the people were entertained by a variety of cultural performances (song and dance) from these two communities after the inevitable cake-cutting ceremony.

The first archdiocesan-level celebration of Migrant Sunday was observed in September 2014 and is held every two years while the first parish-level observance was hosted by Sacred Heart Cathedral in 2015.

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