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CFC & CBCP ECMI: Empowering, Protecting and Caring for Migrant Families

Human migration does not show any signs of ceasing or at least slowing down. Daily, thousands of individuals around the world are going through migration, for various reasons. This was the evident trend noted during the Central and Northwestern Luzon leg of the CFC Migrants Program Convention. Carrying the theme Kaisa ng Simbahan sa Apostolado Migrante, the confab was held last September 30, 2017 at the Greenfields Paradise Resort in Malasiqui, Pangasinan.


A major part of the convention discussed the many complex challenges of migration, especially in the realm of spiritual, pastoral and social care. In his opening remarks, Jess Ferrer, Head of the CFC Migrants Program, stated that “We in the CFC Migrants Program realize that stakeholders should get together to discuss and share how best to approach these challenges. Educating, equipping, and caring for migrants has to be a concerted effort.” 


The CFC Migrants Program offers migrants its expertise in moral values reorientation, parenting, family solidarity, financial management and sustainability, youth formation, among others. “The trust and confidence of the Church, as manifested by the Memorandum of Understanding with the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant Peoples (ECMI), inspires and strengthens our resolve to actively engage, not only in helping set up the Migrants Desk in dioceses nationwide, but also in many other issues that confront our modern-day heroes, such as human trafficking,” Ferrer emphasized.

 

Vis-à-vis CFC’s vision of being families in the Holy Spiritrenewing the face of the Earth, the CFC Migrants Program underscores the migrant’s role as missionaries of the New Millennium, giving premium on moral values reorientation and spiritual formation. The families left behind are given the same formation programs in order to ensure that the families, though physically apart,can be spiritually together in building their shared dreams.International Council member and ANCOP Head Lito Tayag discussed the CFC theme for 2018, as well as the three priority strategies that the IC would like to see happening in the coming year, particularly strengthening the core (family/ community life mission), expanding the reach (opening the gateways to wider evangelization), and answering the cry of the poor and the most vulnerable.


Tayag also acknowledged the desire of migrants to connect with a community in their host countries, especially in the Middle East. Since CFC’s presence is strong in the region, the members should find ways on how to connect with these migrants in order to make them feel they belong, that they have a family even while away from their own in order to help them combat loneliness.In the same way,

 

Tayag also noted the need of the families left behind, especially solo parents who have to be both father and mother to their children while their spouses are away to earn a living. He encouraged CFC and the Family Ministries to take on the challenge of reaching out to the migrants’ families. Tayag also challenged CFC to look into what area in the Migrants Program the community can create the greatest impact.


In his response, Fr. Resty Ogsimer, Executive Secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission for Pastoral Care for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples expressed gratitude for the involvement of CFC in CBCP-ECMI. “The apostolate will be more successful if the lay people are empowered to embrace the ministry,” Fr. Ogsimer stated.

 

According to him, migration used to be a specialized issue in the Church, meaning it wasn’t part of the Church’s mainstream program and only a few are involved in the thrust.The Commission’s goal therefore was to make the program more mainstream. Partnering with a community like Couples for Christ has made the program mainstream as it got more people to talk about and engage in it.


Fr. Resty described the vulnerability especially of unskilled workers, who comprise 65% of migrant workers. Pastoral workers, like priests and the religious, who are engaged in the ministry of migration are constantly face to face with these challenges, including addressing the plight of familes left behind.However, migration does not talk about employment only. In the Philippine setting, this could be true, but in a global scale, employment is not the sole reason for migration. Human trafficking (with problems in prostitution, slave labor and harvesting of human organs), the refugees or asylum seekers displaced by violence or war, seafarers’ welfare (apostleship of the sea) are also some of the sectors in the migration realm that the Church encounters. It is in these areas that Fr. Resty is challenging CFC to do more. He laid out other sectors for ministry like the apostleship of the air, or ministry in the airports. 

 

“There are chapels in our airports now. Perhaps CFC can also get involved in ministering to those who are leaving or in welcoming those who are arriving. Sixthousand Filipinos leave the country for employment. Our long-term goal is to build chapels in international airports nationwide so we can minister to them before they leave,” shared Fr. Resty.


Overall, the CBCP ECMI and CFC’s ultimate goal in the migrant apostolate is to focus on that synergized effort to ensure that migration becomes a tool for families to be empowered, protected and taken care of. (Alma Alvarez)

Added on Monday, October 23, 2017


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