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Archdiocesan agency aims to empower marginalised communities to integrate


From left: Archdiocese of Perth Chief Operations Officer Terry Wilson, Archdiocese of Perth Research and Project Development Manager Tony Giglia, WACMRO Office Manager Grace Kurniawan, and WACMRO Director Dcn Greg Lowe. Photo: Matthew Lau.

By Matthew Lau

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has made it clear that the Perth Archdiocese envisions a fairer, more egalitarian society by opening a comprehensive service to promote the acceptance and settlement of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers.

The new building for the West Australia Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (WACMRO) was opened earlier this month – in time for Migrant and Refugee Week from 20 to 26 August.

“We outreach to all migrants in our community, not just Catholic migrants,” said Terry Wilson, Vicar for Social Outreach and Archdiocese of Perth Chief Operations Officer.

Archbishop Costelloe, in preparing for the current Strategic Plan, conducted a wide range of consultations to identify which areas the Archdiocese was lacking. This consultation identified services for migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers as one priority.

“We wanted to be linked in very clearly with the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, so we’re using the logo for the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office,” Dr Wilson stated.


From left: WACMRO Director Dcn Greg Lowe, WACMRO Office Manager Grace Kurniawan, Archdiocese of Perth Research and Project Development Manager Tony Giglia, and Archdiocese of Perth Chief Operations Officer Terry Wilson. Photo: Matthew Lau.

WACMRO Director Dcn Greg Lowe spoke to The eRecord about the significance of the new office ahead of Migrant and Refugee Week.

“The Church is declaring that the issue of migration is important, always has been from biblical times, and reaching out to vulnerable, marginalised, minority groups who have undergone the migratory event – especially forced migration – it is what we do and who we are, it’s part of our Catholic identity,” Dcn Lowe commented.

“We can’t really be a fully Catholic Church without an agency like this, and indeed without the other agencies which outreach to those who are in need; no matter who they are or where they come from.”

Dcn Lowe said that although there have been other Catholic Immigration Offices previously, the mandate for the new WACMRO is “substantially different”.

“It’s a service to the community of Australian society; one way that’s quite visible is through the chaplaincies. We have Catholic migrant communities serviced by chaplains; part of their role is to empower communities to integrate into Australian society.”


Girrawheen Parish Priest Fr Albert Samedi celebrated a Mass – assisted by Dcn Greg Lowe – for Our Lady of Mercy Primary School on 10 August to honour St Mary MacKillop and St Lawrence, whose feast days occurred during that week. Photo: Supplied.

Tony Giglia, Archdiocese of Perth Research and Project Development Manager, played a vital role is getting the initiative off the ground.

“What became critical was to provide an office in this location, close to the heart of where the Archdiocese is operating from, to have that visible presence in the community because we know that there are people who gather and congregate in this area.

“There is very good support and liaison with the national office, they’ve been to Perth and were involved in the initial consultation that we conducted when we were establishing the office to get it going,” Mr Giglia concluded.

Migrant and Refugee Week will be held throughout Australia from 20 to 26 August, with Migrant and Refugee Sunday being celebrated in several parishes across the Archdiocese of Perth.

The resource kit for parishes to make use of during the week can be downloaded at

For further information about Migrant and Refugee Week, contact WACMRO Office Manager Grace Kurniawan on 08 9220 5950 or