On 27 August the Catholic Church in Australia and the Diocese of Parramatta celebrated Migrant and Refugee Sunday 2017.
The day marked a new year-long Diocesan campaign, Walking with Refugees and People Seeking Protection, that seeks to galvanise a Diocesan-wide, faith-filled urge to bring about a community and political culture that values fair and compassionate treatment of people seeking refuge and protection in Australia.
Speaking in front of over 200 people at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Hall, Seven Hills, Bishop of Parramatta and Bishops Delegate for Migrants and Refugees, Most Rev Vincent Long OFM Conv said Australia was a “wonderful country” that had been “courageous” in accepting refugees.
Related: A Year-Long Diocesan Journey
“Australia – often galvanised by popular pressure – rose to the challenge in the past with its generous embrace of migrants and refugees. It proved itself especially courageous during the Indochinese exodus and accepted an unprecedented number of Asian refugees for the first time in its history. Australia changed for the better as it always has with each successive wave of new arrivals,” Bishop Vincent said.
Bishop Vincent noted, “I think it is fitting that this Diocese takes a lead on this issue. We are the most ethnically diverse diocese and region in Australia. Migrants and refugees bring energy, drive and dynamism to Western Sydney. They also contribute hugely to the renewal and revitalisation of the Catholic Church. So much so that our Diocese boasts the highest participation rate in Australia.”
In closing, Bishop Vincent encouraged those attending to work towards welcoming asylum seekers and refugees into Catholic parishes and communities across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.
“I encourage you to enact the culture of encounter, welcome and acceptance in practical, personal and communal ways. Many parishes and organisations are actively assisting refugees and asylum seekers. It is a great opportunity for us to make a difference and to influence government policies in relation to refugees and asylum seekers,” Bishop Vincent said.
Also in attendance was Father Tom Smolich SJ, Jesuit Refugee Services Intenational Director.