Initiating a Migrants Community: A Journey of Love and Support

Mar 9, 2023 | Korea, Migrants Ministry

In today’s world, migration has become a common phenomenon, and people move from one place to another for various reasons like education, work, or better opportunities. However, the challenges that migrants face in a new place are often underestimated, and they may struggle to find a place to belong, support, and guidance. In one instance, a person was cheated by an agency that promised a better job opportunity in Korea.  From his hometown, he had to borrow a huge amount of money from the bank for his initial supplies of food and accommodation. When he arrived in Korea, he found himself without a place to sleep and the company which offered the job. In another instance, a young girl student struggled with homesickness and peer pressure and was on the verge of an emotional breakdown. The religious community had to rush to her aid, provide emotional support, and take her to a nearby Sister’s house for counseling and treatment.

The incidents mentioned above exemplify a religious community taking a step forward to support the migrants in need. The Claretian Community in Seoul, Korea, recognized the need for a migrants community and initiated it to cater to the pastoral, medical, psychological, and legal needs of the migrants especially in Itaewon. Initially, the community provides a place for migrants to come together, share their experiences and meet their spiritual needs.

On 5 March 2023, the community held a gathering for the migrants in the Claretian community, which began with a general introduction and warm welcome by Fr. James Jose, CMF. The Holy Eucharist was presided over by Fr. Park Michael, CMF, Superior of the Claret community of Seoul. Fr. Manuel Ezhparambil, CMF, Delegate Superior of Korea Independent Delegation, gave a short message welcoming all the migrants and inviting them to participate in the Holy Eucharist every Sunday. Fr. Vincent Lee, CMF, from the Claretian Migrants Center, Bucheon, also joined for the Mass. The migrants from different nationalities attended the Mass. Those 48 participants are from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Philippines, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and India. The Lay associates also volunteered and enriched the program. The gathering ended with a delicious meal shared by all.

The initiative taken by the Claretian Community is praiseworthy, as it recognizes the importance of supporting the migrants in their struggles. Many migrants face challenges like language barriers, cultural differences, denial of wages from employers, discrimination and feel isolated. The migrants community provides a safe space for them to connect with others, share their experiences and receive support from the government.

However, a missionary working with migrants and emigrants who are studying or working is a challenging task. It requires one to overcome their own fears and biases. These individuals are risking their lives for the sake of their families and a better future. They often seek help when they are in dire need of it. They place a great deal of trust in the title of a ‘priest’, ‘sister’, or ‘religious’ and find refuge in them. The journey of love and support for the migrants is a long one, but it is a journey worth taking.

Source | Fr. Sebastian Eruvelikunnel, CMF, Korea Independent Delegation, Communication in charge.

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