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PENAMPANG – Archbishop John Wong cautioned the faithful not to be easily influenced by negative propaganda towards migrants who are here to earn a decent living.
Due to the influx of immigrants in the state and their questionable legal right of staying here, migrants are often negatively generalized as illegal by the society at large.
However, there are those who have legally crossed borders and have contributed to the state’s economic development.
The shepherd of Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese urged the faithful to “hold on to the principles of the Church’s teachings,” and to heed Pope Francis’ four verbs in response to migrants and refugees everywhere, that is, to “Welcome, Protect, Promote and Integrate” them into the local community.
The Archbishop said the four words can be summed up into one word: “Communion” and said that it is in line with the Archdiocese Vision to having “A caring communion of Christ-centred communities”.
“In order to live in communion, we need to welcome others into our lives. We need to protect each other so that our dignity is not polluted with evil elements. We need to promote Gospel values, so that others will be closer to Jesus by our service. And to achieve communion, we must learn to integrate our differences,” said the shepherd.
He said this at the Archdiocesan Migrant Sunday Celebration at St Michael Church Penampang on 30 Sept 2018, in conjunction with the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
The celebration, deemed as a celebration of equality, was joined by 800 locals besides the migrant communities from Indonesia, the Philippines and other states in Malaysia.
The Archbishop expressed his gratitude towards the migrant communities, “Thank you for your contribution to the state’s economy and for your involvement in the life of the local Church.
“Today, I urge you to always obey the law of this nation. Always earn a living in a legal manner, peacefully and full of dignity. Accept the local people as your brothers and sisters in Christ.”
The Migrant Sunday festivities were co-organized by the Human Development Commission (HDC) and St Michael parish with George Maison as chairman.
It was celebrated during the Bahasa Mass at 10.30am, presided by Archbishop Wong, and concelebrated by parish priest Fr Wilfred Atin and HDC spiritual adviser Fr Ambrose Atang, assisted by Deacon Gilbert Marcus.
The readings and prayer of the faithful were said in various languages: English, Malay, Tagalog, Timorese and Kadazan.
To mark the event, the Church prayed for migrants who are victims of human trafficking; for courage to ensure sound migration policy by local authority; good treatment for migrants and refugees in detention centres around the nation; for migrants to find hope through our care and love; for those who are in dangerous regions; and for the volunteers who commit their hands to welcome migrants and refugees.
The celebration continued at St Michael parish hall with lunch and various performances by the migrant communities. – Linda Edward