photos : SOCCOM Tawau
Tawau : The first dialogue session pertaining to the plights of Indonesian migrants working in the Diocese of Sandakan was held in Tarakan on 26th and 27th October 2011. Initiated by Bishop Julius, it involved the Diocese of Tanjung Selur, the transit diocese and the Diocese of Sandakan, the receiving diocese. Back then, 11 delegates attended the session, 5 from Tanjung Selur and 6 from Sandakan.
The second dialogue session held on Wednesday 23rd May 2012 at Holy Trinity Church saw a tremendous increase in the number of delegates involving not only the transit and receiving dioceses but also the sending diocese as well, the Diocese of Larantuka, Flores NTT Indonesia. 21 delegates attended the session.
The team from Tanjung Selur led by Bishop Yustinus included; Pastor Antonio, Bro Ericson, Sr Ermilinda, Sr Sylvia, Sr Coletha, Sr Bonifortise and Pak Anton while the team from Sandakan led by Bishop Julius comprised Msgr Nicholas Ong, Fr Jasery, Fr Simon, Fr Thomas Makajil, Fr David, Fr Anthony Mikat, Sr Maria Dipal, Sr Lidwina, Sr Barbara Lip, Poh Choo and Francis Tan. Romo Lukas was the sole representative from the Diocese of Larantuka, Flores. Though members are from three dioceses, they came as one Church, united to fulfill the mission of Christ.
The session provided a forum for all partner-dioceses to identify and discuss issues encountered by the migrants with a view towards finding practical and effective solutions. Much collaboration is needed among the three dioceses to bring relief to the migrants and that calls for commitment of all parties to explore and study prevalent issues and cooperate in addressing them.
|Pastor Antonio with microphone in hand, clarifying a point in the MoU|
Pursuant to the first dialogue session, both dioceses had taken a step forward to put into action the mutually agreed plan, the path to reach out to the vulnerable, in this case the migrants. Sr Ermilinda Too, SsPS of the Diocese of Tanjung Selur made a 11-day visit to the Diocese of Sandakan from 12th - 22nd March 2012. Working in close collaboration with the Good Shepherd Sisters, she visited the communities in Tawau from 12th - 17th March and the communities in Sandakan from 18th - 22nd March 2012. Apart from pastoral concern, she also conducted a 3-day 'practical teaching' for the teachers in the Learning Centre for Migrants' Children in Tawau.
Participating dioceses agreed and accepted on both the Memorandum of Understanding on 'Training and Formation' and 'Solemnizing or Blessing of Marriages of Indonesian Couples.' Many issues on pastoral concern were brought up, deliberated, enlightened and resolved. An annual plan which shall include activities concerning pastoral care, community building, faith formation and education will be drafted covering all the four parishes of the diocese.
Bishop Julius in winding up the session extended his sincere appreciation to Bishop Yustinus and his delegation for making all effort to be present. The presence of Romo Lukas from Larantuka is an extended kind of cooperation. He said that the meeting has been fruitful and the exchange of views enhanced the joint effort in reaching out to the migrants for the good of Christ's faithful.
Bishop Yustinus said that, the session has brought forth a much clearer direction with a wider scope of cooperation. He hoped that the next dialogue session would be held in Flores NTT, the sending region. He thanked Bishop Julius for his commitment in serving the people of God. He added, 'I am glad of the pastoral care given to the migrants. May they be good Catholics here and remain good Catholics when they return home.'