Bangalore Diocese welcomes African migrants

2016-07-19 Vatican Radio

The Archdiocese of Bangalore in Karnataka welcomed migrants from Africa with open arms at the St. Josephs Boys School, where the Archdiocesan Commission for Migrants organised an event just for them on July 17. 

Mgr Bernard Moras, archbishop of Bangalore, told AsiaNews that "the Jubilee of Mercy provided the impetus for the meeting. It is important to take care of the pastoral needs of migrants and dedicate ourselves to their well-being.” 

Some 200 students from Africa attended a Eucharistic celebration and cultural programs that followed. The southern state of Karnataka has become a point of destination for many of Africa’s poor and people fleeing the continent’s conflict zones.

In view of the situation, the local Church has promoted various initiatives, the archbishop said, " for both students and those who leave their homeland in search of job opportunities."

“They are,” the bishop noted, "precious before God and dear to all of us.” For this reason, “We welcome you wholeheartedly. We want you to feel loved, accepted, as if you were at home. "

In order to approach African Christians, who mostly speak French, different parts of the "liturgy are in French, like the songs or readings,” Mgr Moras explained. “Caring for migrants is part of my mission and providing for their spiritual needs in their mother tongue is a major aspect of pastoral care."  For Mgr Moras, "Pastoral care of all migrants is the special focus of our extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy”.

The migrants, more than 100 people, appreciated the diocese’ initiative, whose aims is to favour greater integration with the local community.

Odo Amos Ikechukwu, a young Nigerian, is one of them. "I feel so happy to have found a home away from home,” he said. “I no longer feel lost or alone since I heard that the archdiocese has a commission that takes care of us. We feel that it takes care of us even from the spiritual point of view. "

William Kengne Gatchuessi Guillaume, a native of Cameroon, thanked the Archbishop for having "created a commission that helps people feel a sense of belonging to the Church and God’s love and tender care as we build our careers in India".

Father Martin Puthussery, secretary of the Archdiocesan Commission of Migrants, said that 3,000 Africans come to Bangalore to attend university. At least 1,000 of them are Catholics, said the Jesuit priest.

The diocese is also involved in the care of domestic migrants. (AsiaNews)

(from Vatican Radio)