Northern Deanery Mass and Seminar on Immigrants, Refugees and Migrants

On the 19 July 2014 Justice and Peace committee of Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale, hosted a J &P Northern Deanery Mass. The Mass was con-celebrated by Fr. Raymond McQuarrie, vicar for J&P in the Arch-Diocese of Johannesburg and Fr Petrus Shiya, the parish priest. The Mass was preceded by a Seminar with a theme Immigrants, Refugees and Migrants deserve dignity and respect.The liturgy of the day was tailored to celebrate our rich diversity of different nationalities. Prayers of the faithful were recited in different languages. During Mass three choirs sang in various languages, i.e. French, Isizulu, Sesotho, English and Nigerian local language, to punctuate the diversity of our parish. Flags of different nationalities were hoisted at the entrance procession of the Mass. Parishioners wore attire of their own nationality. Fr Raymond McQuarrie in his homily underscored the fact that the first status for Immigrants, Refugees and Migrants is that they are Human beings. He consoled us that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees as well. Immigrants, Refugees and Migrants in South Africa experience discrimination and injustice. The purpose of the seminar was to express our solidarity with them. In the words of Pope Francis,“to evangelise effectively to the Immigrants, Refugees and Migrants we need to take the smell of the sheep and also get our shoes soiled by the mud of the street”. This is a call to get out there and share the pain, the suffering and the frustrations of our brothers and sisters. This theme is also in line with the motto of Justice and Peace i.e. if you want peace, work for justice. The attendance of the seminar was beyond our expectation. All in all 63 people attended and participated in the Seminar. There were representatives from Victory Park, Holy Trinity, Rosebank and Bryanston. Cameroonian – Samuel Nlend and Zimbabwean-Joseph Kanyama shared their personal experiences of being Immigrants, Refugees and Migrants in South Africa. Jesuit Refugees Services Advocacy officer, Samson Ogunyemi, explained the services offered for refugees. We learned that migration is an international phenomenon and goes with conflict around in the world. Speaker after speaker emphasised that refugees are not pests. They are our guests and we should welcome them since we are their hosts. Department of Home Affairs representatives Peter Ndwandwe and Herman Lekalakala explained the role and the functions of DHA to the SA citizens and

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foreign nationals. Towards the end of the Seminar a slot was allocated for questions and answers. Most of the attendees found this session most valuable because individual and specific questions were raised and were adequately responded to by the panel made up of DHA and JRS representatives. This was the first Justice and Peace Northern Deanery Mass of its kind and we hope that this event will become an annual event. Other Parishes in the Northern Deanery will have the opportunity to host similar events on a rotational basis.

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