South Africa: Pastoral care and training for those working with migrants.

South African Archbishop of Johannesburg, Buti Tlhagale, asked the country’s diocesan coordinators at a workshop to pray that God will remove the obstacles that prevent humans from welcoming those in need.

Vatican English Africa Service – Vatican City.

Bishop Tlhagale, Liaison Bishop for Migrants and Refugees at the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC), observed that the movement of people around the world posed a pastoral challenge to the Church. He drew attention to the importance of prayer in any response to the situation of migrants and refugees.

A love that is not selective

During his homily at a Mass he celebrated for the diocesan coordinators, Bishop Tlhagale urged prayer so that “God removes the obstacles that prevent us from receiving others. “Pray that Almighty God will give us the will power to do good for migrants and refugees… when we celebrate Advent, we hope that Christ will find us eager to welcome him. So we pray that we too will be eager to welcome visitors, to welcome migrants and refugees in our community, ”said the prelate of Johannesburg.

He added, “We must pray to God to be generous in increasing our love. A love that is not selective. A love that accepts another human being. Now it’s a tall order, easier said than done, ”he observed. Finally, the Archbishop declared that there was the need to “pray that God will remove the obstacles that prevent us from receiving others, so that we can accept those who are in need and who simply ask to be recognized as than people ”.

Don’t wait for someone else to do something

The two-day workshop on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees also saw a presentation by Fr. Eduardo Gabriel, a Scalabrini priest from Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa (SIHMA). In his presentation, Father Gabriel noted that “sometimes we wait for someone else to do something for migrants and refugees instead of only us doing something”. He stressed the importance of listening to migrants and refugees. “So that you can help them with your hands, listen to them first,” he said.

Parish interlocutors for migrants and refugees

Sally Gandar, Advocacy Officer and Legal Advisor at the Scalabrini Center in Cape Town, spoke on “Understanding Migration in South Africa and the Legal Framework for Migration in South Africa”.

In part, the workshop was organized in response to the 2019 resolution of the Bishops of Southern Africa, who called on parishes to designate contact persons for migrants and refugees in their communities. In addition, the workshop aimed to facilitate continuing education and training for those who engage in the ministry of migrants and refugees.


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Richard V. Johnson