ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Lay Catholics have leading role to play in pastoral care for migrants in Asia: conclusions of “Exodus”, week of formation for Religious and lay Catholics involved in pastoral care of migrants and itinerant peoples

Thursday, 1 April 2004

Tagaytay (Fides Service) - “Considering the phenomenon of migrants as a sign of the times we vowed to take loving care of itinerant peoples and celebrate communion in diversity ”: Scalabrino Father Fabio Baggio, Director of the Scalabrini Migration Center (SMC) in Manila, told Fides after Exodus a week of formation for people involved pastoral care of migrants in Asia, held at the SMC in Tagaytay, Philippines, from 21 to 27 March
This is the fourth Exodus organised by the SMC, in collaboration with the Commission for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples of the Philippines Bishops’ Conference. The week of formation was attended by 31 people, priests, religious and lay people directly involved in the involved in pastoral care of migrants and itinerant peoples in Asia.
The programme - Father Baggio explained- focussed on five main themes. Day One was devoted to the study of the migratory phenomenon in Asian countries from the social-anthropological point of view. Discussion in work groups highlighted emerging themes such as: abuse by the emigration industry, the social cost of emigration and implications connected with the phenomenon in recent times. On Day Two participants reflected on the migratory phenomenon from the biblical-theological aspect with the help of Church documents and teachings.
Day Three was dedicated to different programmes of migratory pastoral in the Asia-Pacific region. Particularly interesting reflection on the role of lay Catholics in the mission of the Church towards migrants and itinerant peoples.
Work groups stressed the necessity of pastoral collaboration among the Particular Churches in both countries of origin and in hosting countries.
Day Four was entirely given to “psychological counselling” as an integral part of ministry for migrants.
The final Day of the event stressed the necessity to formulate common plans at the regional level in South East Asia, and to make more significant and effective interventions at the political and the pastoral levels. Outlining main objectives in pastoral work in the coming three years the participants pinpointed: human promotion and respect for rights of migrants; insistence on the duty of hospitality on the part of communities in the hosting countries; pastoral co-responsibility of the Particular Churches; migrants as subjects of evangelisation.
The days of study and discussion were enriched by intense moments of community prayer organised by the participants using also various ethnic liturgical customs and languages (PA) (Agenzia Fides 1/4/2004 lines 40 words 448)