Why we celebrate Corpus Christi
June 19, 2019
Together with Christ, we are invincible
June 20, 2019

Migrants need spiritual support

By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI

“A spirituality of migration has less to do with ‘being nice to refugees’ and more to do with an awareness that spirituality itself has a migratory character. Taking clues from the parable of the Good Samaritan, it is a spirituality that continuously is prepared to travel, so to speak, into the contact zones between cultures” (Michael Nausner).

CCSJ shares the following letter from Eduardo Patriz, a Venezuelan asylum seeker who is a journalist. He is a member of Chaguanas’ Parish Ministry for Migrants and Refugees (PMMR).

Dear brothers and sisters of PMMR Chaguanas,
In light of the gospel and in the middle of the week of Pentecost, I go to the Holy Spirit, so that he may pour out his holy gifts in us.

Allow me to take a few minutes of your journey. I extend these words to you in written form, due to the difficulty I sometimes present in expressing myself orally, and on the subject of which today we will discuss, the issue of sensitisation about migrants and refugees.

As a representation of migrants and refugees in PMMR, I understand your desire, faithful believers and active members of the parish of Chaguanas to help in a visible, effective and solid way to all migrants and refugees, and I also understand the limitations, many times economic, which prevent meeting the needs of the most affected migrants.

We ourselves who feel and understand the suffering of those who emigrate find it difficult to help our brothers and sisters. Economically and humanely it is impossible.

I want to ask you that we do not overlook the help, which in my opinion could be even more important and valuable for those who suffer from exile, hunger, street situation, and it is the spiritual help.

From my own experience and in my most desolate moments as a migrant, it has been prayer, the gospel and blind faith in God our Lord, that has kept me on my feet.

More than fundraising activities and financial aid, food or medicine, which are important, let’s consider spiritual and moral help. Therefore, I believe, as PMMR, we could take into account the following:

1. Talk daily, at least with one person or group of people about migrants and refugees. We all have a friend who is not sensitised to migrants. Something very important that members of the Catholic Church can do for us is to be spokespersons about good migrants, for our longing, for our suffering, which is real, and for our desire to work and to do things well. Venezuelan migrants all over the world have a slogan, which is this: we are mostly good. Help us spread this message.

2. In times of difficulty it is when we most need words of encouragement, a helping hand, a hug and God. I think that as a Church, this is a good time to invite migrants and refugees to the church, to read the gospel and to be united in prayer. More than food, there is spiritual nourishment, the Word of God, prayer, Holy Mass, communion. Let’s go out and look for migrants and refugees to bring them to church.

3. Moral support is important. Many times we may not have anything to eat, but if we have friends, family and a community that make us feel that we are part of it, that sustains us. I know, perhaps, it is difficult to get a Mass in Spanish, but we could organise a rosary in Spanish every month or every 15 days, a meeting of migrants accompanied by the church, or a film`s screening for migrants and refugees, and other social activities that allow the refugees to approach the church and feel accompanied, make them feel that they are not alone, that this country, this community and this Church receive them.

I recognise in you, your desire to give inn, food and health care to all migrants and refugees. I know that if you could you would, but I invite you, again, to consider giving, that maybe, we can, and feed more: the knowledge that God is with us and never abandons us.

Let’s not be frustrated because we cannot give financial help or give assistance that does not depend on us, when there are other actions that we can do. Nor am I saying that the fundraising part is not important. It is. My invitation is not to overlook the deep sensitisation that prayer, the gospel, and communion represent.

Let’s be united, let’s keep working, even if it seems little, it’s not. We insist on prayer and on the certainty of knowing that God loves us.

Thank you for all you do for us, for feeling called to this work, for making Amil and me part of this family. And excuse my bad English. See you later brothers and sisters. God bless us.

Your brother, Eduardo.

Chaguanas, June 13, 2019 

From my own experience and in my most desolate moments as a migrant, it has been prayer, the gospel and blind faith in God our Lord, that has kept me on my feet.