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Migrants seeking the sacraments

A catechetics programme is being organised within the North Western Migrant Ministry (NWMM) to cater to the demand from migrants to access the sacraments.

Fr Harold Imamshah, parish priest St Peter’s, Carenage, said: “We have begun to organise catechetics in each of the parishes represented so we can take care of the sacramental needs—Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, and we’ve had a request or two for weddings.”

The NWMM comprises St Peter’s, St Finbar’s, Nativity and St John’s. “I had my first Hispanic baptism in Carenage a month ago and that was integrated with those English-speaking parishioners…” Fr Imamshah said in an interview with Catholic News on December 17.

He continued, “The Masses I do are entirely in Spanish except the sermons. I preach in both Spanish and English because all of our ministers in ministry are English speaking. Yes, we would like to do more with the sacraments, and it will require much more one on one, in-depth interaction with the Hispanics.”

The ministry which initially began assisting Venezuelans fleeing turmoil in their homeland has seen migrants coming forward from Colombia, and the Dominican Republic and other countries.

Fr Imamshah commented that migrants, particularly the Venezuelans, left their countries without any documents on the sacraments received. He said, “They are anxious their children make their First Communion so we are borrowing the programme that Hispanics at Fatima College use on a Sunday as a start, then after a while adapt it to fit the numbers that come and age groups.”

Fr Imamshah told Catholic News that when he went to Carenage he presided at a Hispanic Mass in March, the first Hispanic Mass. St Finbar’s, Nativity/St Anthony’s were invited. “That was a fairly big Mass with up to 90 people; we distributed hampers and registered those families we knew from Carenage”.

The brother of the St Peter’s parish secretary is married to a Venezuelan and provided their home to register persons. Hampers were distributed and there was an exchange of refreshments with the Venezuelans providing locals with a taste of home, from ingredients shared with them.

Hispanic Masses were introduced subsequently on the last Sunday of the month at Nativity and St John’s.

Fr Imamshah said the venues were chosen because they did not have evening Masses. Clothing, food, non-perishable items, beds and mattresses have been distributed to migrants.

He said this has increased and been well organised by the migrant ministries in the parishes. Mass attendance had also increased, which he attributed to “the foodstuff being given out”. He added, “There have been a few jobs available but not many…” —LPG