by Shirley Joseph
Brunei : The third day, 30th April, after breakfast, EMI members were taken to a tour to the other two churches in the Apostolic Vicariate of Brunei by bus. They visited the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception (COOL), Seria and St. John's Church (SJC), Kuala Belait.
Members had Mass with some of the COOL's parishioners. The mass was presided over by Fr. Jomari Amores and con celebrated by Fr. Arin, Fr. Alvin, Fr. Charlie and Fr. Robert Leong, the Parish Priest of COOL.
Fr. Jomari, a visiting priest from the Philippines, in his homily stressed about how we must live as a community and practice tolerance towards achieving harmony in the church and society. He said that suffering is part of human existence. Thus, we need to pray to God that we are given the strength to face challenges in our lives.
Mr. Michael James gave a briefing about the history of SJC. He shared that St. John's Parish has around 2,500 parishioners. The community comprises 67% Bruneians, 21% Filipinos, 6% Indians, 4% Europeans and 2% Chinese.
Fr. Paul Shie, the Parish Priest of SJC welcomed the EMI members and gave each a souvenir. The tour ended with a luncheon fellowship.
Ann Woo from the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, a well known Catholic speaker on Fund Raising gave a workshop session on the said topic.
Then, before having dinner with the COLA's Chinese Community, members were taken to a night tour to the city area.
On the final day, 1st May, EMI Members attended a Mass in Tagalog. The mass was presided over by Bishop Cornelius con celebrated by Fr. Arin, Fr. Alvin and Fr. Charlie Oasan, a Filipino Priest.
Fr. Charlie who is currently serving in the Archdiocese of Singapore, in his homily mostly in Tagalog, said that, "Peace be with you - Kapayapaan is one of the gift of resurrection. Resurrected with Christ we become happy and joyful people. We have hope. The opposites of peace are fear, pride and confusion. When we have fear, we will run away and hide ourselves. Our faith entails the love that we believe in. Don't be like St. Thomas who wanted to see first to believe. The Lord is offering us peace. He is guiding us through His Words."
After breakfast, the session continued with a Question and Answer slot facilitated by Peter. Members shared about the struggles that they faced and how they meet the challenges while serving in the migrant ministry in their respective dioceses. Then to find solutions to roadblocks and empowering of each other through this sharing session, the members listed out the challenges and recommendations on three chosen topics on Migrant Community Development:-
2. Community Development among migrants
3. Reducing Force Absence of Family Unity among Migrants
Members were reminded that;
1. The Diocese of Sandakan will host the 9th EMI Conference in 2017 and the date will be confirmed the soonest.
2. The Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu will be responsible for the Migrant Sunday Kit for 2017.
3. The Archdiocese of Singapore will host the Exodus Formation Program in 2017 either in July or August.
Peter Barnabas in his closing remarks, thanked everyone for the successful 8th Annual Conference especially to the host diocese and the participation of the EMI members.
Fr. Arin brought the members to visit the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, COLA's goods Storage Centre before they headed back to their home arch/dioceses. The goods are to be distributed to the needy families. Let us move forth and turn our attention to those living in the periphery, putting into practice in more determined way, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. (MV, 15)