Many Churches around the world celebrated the 109th World Migrants and Refugees Day (WDMR) with different types of initiatives under the theme “Free to choose to migrate or to stay”.
The Episcopal Commission for Migrants, Refugees and Displaced Persons of Mozambique - CEMIRDE, carried out several activities. Among them, it is worth mentioning the launching of the book on migrants in Europe by Fr. Francisco Valente Fumo (Director of the CEM Secretariat), and the organisation of the National Seminar of Diocesan Coordinators for the Pastoral Care of Human Mobility. Sunday, September 24 was celebrated through the Eucharist, cultural moments, and fraternization in the different dioceses of the country. In the Maratane refugee camp, the date was celebrated with a television program.
The Church in India also celebrated the 109th WDMR. Thanks to the joint effort of the Commission for Migrants, the Delhi Catholic Archdiocesan Migrants Commission, and Sacred Heart Cathedral, more than 300 Burmese Catholic refugees and people who have fled the ethnic violence in Manipur, together with many local supporters, gathered around the Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi. Most of the migrants showed up in their traditional clothes, keeping faith in their culture and practices. After the Mass, all the participants proceeded to the Jesus and Mary Convent School, where some Burmese migrants shared their ordeal of migrating to India amidst the violence in their country.
In Mali, the WDMR celebration was preceded by a program on ECF TV, Radio Maria of Bamako, and Radio Maria of Mopti. The broadcast presented the Message of Pope Francis and the different activities of the Catholic Church in the country to help migrants and refugees. The objective was to inform and sensitize the lay faithful in their communities about the concerns of the Holy Father and the results of the actions carried out by the Malian dioceses in the field of migration, to encourage them to celebrate WDMR.
In Uganda, Msgr John Baptist Odama, Archbishop of Gulu, visited the resilient community at Yoyo Zone, Bidibidi Refugee Settlements in Arua Diocese. On behalf of the Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda, Most Rev. Luigi Bianco, he called upon refugees to be messengers of God's Love. Arch. Odama also appealed to the 64 tribes from South Sudan residing in Uganda as refugees to use this time in exile to learn to co-exist and to live harmoniously. He finally urged leaders to resolve issues through dialogue and service, not aggression, and encouraged citizens to welcome each other as fellow inhabitants of the same world.
On September 24, the Focolare Movement in Peru organized an event with Venezuelan migrants to celebrate the WDMR, dividing the day into three different moments: active dialogue with experts for adults, workshops for adolescents, and finally a moment of celebration with food, games, songs and dances. During the day there was also a moment to read Pope Francis’ Message and to reflect and respond to his call to action “How can we make our communities ever more inclusive?”.
Posters and leaflets were distributed in Togo and an audio spot was broadcast for weeks on radio Maria Dapaong to raise awareness and invite Christians and communities to the WDMR celebration. The Mass took place in the parish cathedral of St Charles Lwanga in Dapaong, and was presided over by Bishop Emeritus Jacques Anylunda. Also present were representatives of state services, NGOs and various religious denominations, as well as a delegation from the refugee and immigrant communities from Lomé. A large number of Christian faithful attended the day’s celebration, along with 560 displaced persons and refugees from the diocese. At the end of the Mass, representatives of migrants and refugees living in other parts of Togo delivered a timely message to the displaced persons and refugees of the Diocese of Dapaong.