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Accepting everyone we encounter is a sign of Christian love, says WACMRO Director on Migrant and Refugee Sunday



Cathedral Dean Father Sean Fernandez with WACMRO Director Deacon Gregory Lowe (left) during Migrant and Refugee Sunday Mass on 26 August. Photo: Ron Tan. 

By Matthew Lau

Numerous parishes across the Archdiocese of Perth paid homage to their respective multi-cultural congregations on World Migrant and Refugee Sunday.

The annual celebration – this year celebrated on 26 August – saw parishioners donning their national clothing, as well as colours that represented the flags of their countries of origin.

Cathedral Dean Father Sean Fernandez celebrated the Migrant and Refugee Sunday 9.30am Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral, assisted by Deacon Gregory Lowe.

On a brisk morning that coincided with the ever-popular City to Surf event, Dcn Lowe, who is the Director of the West Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office, related the event to the Gospel reading of the day, John 6:60-69.

“The City to Surf has a definite route and a final destination, and the participants commit themselves not only to the journey but also to the finish point. Likewise, our spiritual pathway calls us to focus on Christ who is both the way and the end point for our lives,” he said.

“We commit to following Christ’s way – His mind and His heart – in our thoughts, words and deeds. And on this world day of migrants and refugees, this means being generous enough to meet Him in everyone we encounter, no matter who they are for this is a sure sign of Christian love.”


The West Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office recently opened in central Perth – just a stone’s throw from St Mary’s Cathedral on Victoria Square. Photo: Ron Tan.

Dcn Lowe used the analogy that the Christian life of holiness, like City to Surf, requires effort.

“We do this by recognising our limitations and our weaknesses before Christ and, in doing so, we are more ready to accept people just as they are no matter where they are from, for persistence in seeking Christ’s aid for ourselves and those around us is Christian faith indeed,” he continued.

“Notice that upon finishing the City to Surf, many a participant wears a smile, even as they stop to catch their breath,” Dcn Lowe added.


At the conclusion of Mass on 26 August, Fr Sean Fernandez invited parishioners to the Parish Centre for a special morning tea to celebrate Migrant and Refugee Sunday. Photo: Ron Tan.

“For us, this means knowing that following Christ is worth it to the end, and our joy is to catch our spiritual breath, often through prayer, knowing that it is the grace of Christ which alone enables us to remain generous, accepting and open to those around us no matter what language they speak – for our belief in the risen Christ and his grace is the great Christian hope.”

He concluded by encouraging the congregation to ask for the grace to let God speak a new covenant language through them which, he said, is based on “the ‘bread’ of faith, hope, and love and is filled with the ‘life’ of goodness, beauty and truth”.


At the conclusion of Mass on 26 August, Fr Sean Fernandez invited parishioners to the Parish Centre for a special morning tea to celebrate Migrant and Refugee Sunday. Photo: Ron Tan.

St Thomas More Church, Bateman Parish, celebrated its third annual Migrant and Refugee Sunday in elaborate style with more than 700 parishioners in attendance for the 11am Mass and celebrations that followed.

The diverse parish – which boasts 69 nationalities among its parishioners – recited the Prayers of the Faithful, the Our Father, and various hymns in different languages.

After Mass, parishioners enjoyed an international feast of food with entertainment provided in the form of cultural dances and live music.