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Migrants and Refugees gather in Jaffa

Migrants and Refugees gather in Jaffa

Journee-des-migrants-300x169JAFFA TEL AVIV: On 17 January 2015 the International Day for Migrants and Refugees was observed. As in each year, a mass was celebrated in Jaffa, followed by a social event during which each community can dance and express its joy of being together. The feast day was also in the hearts of those who come from countries visited by the Pope over the last days.


It is rare, during a mass, to see faithful coming from different countries – maybe some 15 – to listen to over 10 languages and to believe in the importance of unity. For a large number of migrants and refugees, Church is a shelter, a home. And the house of one day was the Church of St Anthony of Jaffa, packed for the morning mass, so was the church of St Saviour of Jerusalem, on the following day, for a mass with a large number of Filippinos who live in the Holy City.

Making the church a place of welcome is one of the main challenges of this day, according to Fr David Neuhaus, in charge of the pastoral of Migrants for the diocese. According to the latter, we should develop for the Migrants the knowledge of the unity of Church, reminding them that they are not alone, to enable them to stay in union with their home country and more so with the Pope who made a visit these last days to the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Against the backdrop of all this diversity, Mass could become a concern. But each one finds his comfort: language of the liturgy in English, the singing allowing to make a tour round the world: the Kyrie and the hymn of peace in Arabic according to Maronite rite, the Psalm in Hebrew, the offertory in Konkani, the anamneses according to Ge’ez rite, communion hymns in Ge’ez, in Tagalog, in Konkani and another African hymn, in addition to other hymns interpreted by a choir composed largely of Filippinos.


Pope Francis in all the spirits

In Jaffa, Fr Neuhaus preferred reading part of the message of the Pope for the intentional day whereby he called on migrants and refugees: “Dear migrants and refugees ! You have a special place in the heart of the Church, and you help her widen the dimension of its heart to show its maternity towards the entire human family. Do not lose your trust or your hope!”

Many were in fellowship with the Pope Francis on a visit meanwhile to their countries. Filippinos and Sri Lankese were happy to know that their families welcome the Holy Father, thousands of miles away from the Holy Land.

They celebrated it altogether through dancing and singing after Mass, under the watchful eyes of all the priests, sisters and lay people who put so much energy at the service of these poorer people.


Pierre Loup de Raucourt