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Tripartite gathering discusses pastoral care for Indonesian migrants in Sabah

MATALOKO, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) – The 5th biennial Tripartite Pastoral Gathering to discuss issues on pastoral care for Indonesian migrants working or residing in Sabah took place at Khemah Tabor here on 2-5 Oct 2017.

In his opening remarks, Romo Eduardo Raja Pr, the organising chair from the Archdiocese of Ende, explained that this fifth pastoral gathering was part of the tripartite partnership between the sending dioceses in Flores, the transit diocese in north-east Kalimantan and the receiving dioceses in Sabah. It has been established since the first encounter in 2011 between the bishops of Sandakan and Tanjong Selur. Since then more dioceses have joined in.

The three dioceses in Sabah sent a contingent of 10 delegates (four from Kota Kinabalu, four from Sandakan and two from Keningau). There were 44 local delegates from the three Flores dioceses of  Ende, Larantuka and Ruteng. Tanjong Selur in north-east Kalimantan has two representatives while for the first time there were representatives from the Diocese of Denpasar. Two observers from the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia were also present.

In line with the call of Pope Francis to care for one another, especially for the weak and vulnerable, the Tripartite Pastoral Gathering has chosen the theme “Becoming a Church that is increasing her concerns about Migrants and Itinerants.” The theme was in line with the Holy Father’s call to be “a Church that is bruised, hurt and dirty because it has been out on the street to serve.”

The gathering expounded on the issues related to migration, reviewed the agreements spelt out in the previous gatherings, and added on new areas of co-operation; all these with the aim to enhance the tripartite partnership on pastoral care to migrants in the dioceses involved.

Among the recommendations by delegates for the consideration of the sending, transit and receiving dioceses are: (a) to establish migrant parishes and migrant desks, (b) to initiate economic empowerment of migrant families, (c) to intensify catechesis on safe, dignified and legal migration, and (d) a set up a half-way house and advocacy work by the transit diocese.

As for the receiving dioceses in Sabah (Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Keningau), aside from the need to establish migrant desks to facilitate pastoral care to migrants, other proposed recommendations are to train more catechists among locals and migrants to be pastoral caregivers, to pay special attention to the third generation migrants by networking with relevant authorities such as the Indonesian Consulate, to strengthen networking and cooperation with the sending and transit dioceses, and to collate data on the profile of the migrants.

The recommendations in the form of a Final Statement serve as a committed effort to address the problems faced by migrants in the receiving dioceses, which among others are the shortage of pastoral personnel for migrants, conversion to other faiths, decline in faith, discriminations, counterfeiting documents either for church or official uses, undocumented, issues related to homebound journey (either alive or dead), and health issues among distressed migrants.

The gathering concluded with the closing Eucharist, which was presided by Msgr Gilbert Engan of Keningau – AHDC

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