By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ, & Director, CREDI
“Are we open to ‘God’s surprises’? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new?” (Pope Francis)
This Pentecost, let us embrace the initiative of Archbishop Jason Gordon and members of the Vicars’ Council who agreed at a recent meeting that a Ministry for Migrants and Refugees would be established in each parish and ecclesial community. The archbishop followed up this decision in his May 6 Catholic News column. He has asked that we entrust this ministry to Our Lady of the Wayside.
Archbishop Gordon has asked CCSJ to lead this ministry in the archdiocese and to assist parishes and religious communities in establishing and operationalising this important ministry. We will work with Fr Simon Peter Ango, and the Refugee Ministry at Living Water Community to assist in successfully completing the four steps he has outlined (see below).
While there is no legislation in T&T dealing with refugees, there is a National Policy to Address Refugee and Asylum Matters in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, adopted by Cabinet in June 2014 (www.refworld.org/docid/571109654.html). The Archdiocesan Ministry for Migrants and Refugees will operate within the laws of T&T and will draw on the aforementioned policy to support its work.
The Gifts of the Spirit are given to us so that we will build up the body of Christ on earth. Today, Pentecost Sunday, let us ask ourselves: “Are we allowing the Spirit of Truth, whom Jesus sent to his disciples/us from His Father, to empower us/enlighten our actions so that we can live our mission as faithful witnesses to Christ?”.
Let us seek a fresh outpouring of the Spirit in us and allow Him to guide us and draw us closer to our Heavenly Father. This Sunday’s Gospel Year A reading (Jn 20:19–23), reminds me that in the same way that the disciples closed the door to the room where they were “for fear of the Jews”, some T&T citizens want to close the doors to their hearts for fear that we may be “swamped” with refugees and migrants.
The risen Jesus greeted His disciples saying: “Peace be with you”, and breathed on them saying: “Receive the Holy Spirit”. Let us ask Him to breathe new life into us; free us from fear and find ways of welcoming, protecting, promoting, and integrating refugees and migrants. Our Lady of the Wayside, pray for us.
Here are the main points contained in an email sent last Monday to all parish priests, religious communities and members of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council in relation to this initiative:
STEP ONE: Each parish and each religious community should:
STEP TWO: After studying the aforementioned document, each parish and each religious community should engage in The Pastoral Circle, which is “a tool for promoting social analysis on critical social issues”. Engaging in this exercise will assist in initiating all involved into pastoral reflection, leading to action.
Also of use in this exercise is the set of 20 Pastoral Action Points and 20 Action Points for the Global Compacts which provide concrete advice for welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees. These action points were produced by the Migrants & Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
STEP THREE: From his studies in Rome and from his work with migrants and refugees, Fr Ango has a sound theological and practical knowledge relating to this ministry. He will arrange vicariate meetings to discuss the newly formed migrant and refugee ministry.
Also attending these meetings will be some members of the refugee ministry, run by Living Water Community, and CCSJ, all of whom will facilitate theological and pastoral reflections on the ministry. We will seek to address concerns, answer questions and assist in understanding procedure and boundaries. We will also support the ministry in other ways, as is necessary.
STEP FOUR: There will be ongoing support for this ministry and opportunities for periodic reflections at meetings that will be arranged by CCSJ.
Visit www.rcsocialjusticett.org for our columns, media releases and more.