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The local observance of Migrant Sunday for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei falls on September 25. Below is the message from the new President of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants (EMI), for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Bishop Bernard Paul:
His Holiness Pope Francis invites us to reflect on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees’ theme “Migrants and Refugees Challenge Us. The Response of the Gospel of Mercy”,
How do we view the foreign workers and refugees amongst us? Just like the Roman Empire, the Malaysian economy is heavily dependent on migrant labour. According to the Human Resources Minister, Dato Richard Riot there are around 6.7 million migrant workers in the country inclusive of over 4 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. Their presence are also felt in the construction, manufacturing, agriculture, plantations, service industry and households.
Can we be oblivious to them and their contribution? Can we pass each other without a nod or an acknowledgement? Do we have the courage to admit that they are our new neighbours? The migrants and refugees are our new friends and new neighbours. 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.
Can our parishes become centres to integrate all peoples? Can our BECs create awareness of the migrants and refugees and their plight in our neighbourhood? What parish activities can promote the building of migrant communities? Do we still ask “who is my neighbour”?
May we be moved by the mercy shown us by individuals and people, and above by the Merciful Father in sharing ourselves and our Samaritan response to these new neighbours in our midst.
Together building His Kingdom,
Rt Rev Bernard Paul