In 1998 the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of St. Charles – Scalabrinians, arrived in Johannesburg by invitation from the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg +Reginald J. Orsmond, to coordinate the Department of Human Development and Refugee.
On 28 February 2000 the Department of Human Development operate separate and Refugees became an independent Department lately call Department of Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees. The PCMR was working in collaboration with Jesuit Refugee Services sharing the same building till 2004 when Pastoral Care have change building and continues the work at 6 Webb Street – Yeoville. From 2012, with the new chancery, Pastoral Care has a new office at its premises.
The commitment of the Sister in their Ministry and in the Archdiocese provided them with a better understanding of the social and pastoral needs of migrants and refugees. At that time, most of the migrants and refugees were men but shortly afterwards many refugee women and their children followed.
The main focus of Pastoral Care, till 2011, was to francophone and Lusophone communities. The step followed was, first to see the reality of refugees and migrants by participation with them in their events as well as contacts and visit of the various pastoral sectors of the Diocese and the parishes.
The second step was to judge. We interpreted the information and started looking at the reality from the prospective of the Word of God and the Church to detect the necessities and see what the priorities for the action were.
Thirdly, we came to act. A Pastoral Action Plan for a short, medium, and long term was formulated, including the formation of activities, group work, networking with various organisations and the integration within local communities.
Seeing the complex reality on migration in our archdiocese, which is sometimes voluntary but most of the time they are forced migration due to economic, social, cultural, religious and scientific or technical reasons. Its consequences reach in all aspects of modern societies: their new multicultural constitution, their living standards, their models or patterns of consumption, and their customs. Above all, migration is seen as an opportunity for dialogue and communion, for growth and enrichment; in other words, integration. Pope John Paul II drew attention to this: “In the case of many civilizations, immigration has brought new growth and enrichment. In other cases, the local people and immigrants have remained culturally separate but have shown that they are able to live together, respecting each other and accepting or tolerating the diversity of customs”. (JOHN PAUL II, Message for the World Day for Peace 2001).
In this perspective, Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees in this archdiocese, started, since 2011, building up a Pastoral in the spirit of Communion, Participation and Integration, open for all different reality migrates and refugees in the Parishes. The Department in its actual pastoral focus on the both dimensions: SOCIAL AND ECCLESIAL.
Pastoral Care is committed to empowering the local Church and migrant Church to embrace in a joint adventure.
We promote an authentic culture of welcome, accepting human values, faith and diversity of each individual migrants, by empowering them to grow spiritually through Catholic Principles and Scriptures.
Our aim is to promote a Catholic spirit of bringing people together from many different nationalities, languages, ethnicity and traditions.
To contribute in powering the Migrant community to grow spiritually through scriptures in making the true face of the Church visible and carry out the teaching of Jesus’ saying : ” I was an stranger and you welcomed me.”(Mt 25,35)
To promote dialog, welcome and integrate migrants and refugees with local community, thereby strengthen their faith in the spirit of the new evangelisation.
To plan with pastoral care for migrants and refugees in the Parishes so that it could be integrated and coordinated to the Department of Pastoral Care in this archdiocese for promoting the same spirit and welcoming environment between parishes.
To rebuild people’s dignity, which was deprived of, through interview, outreach, distribution of donations.
To represent united Church beyond all differences.