More than 30 parish communities, including the Melkite community, came together to celebrate the World Day for Migrants and Refugees on Sunday, January 18 at the Scalabrini Centre for Refugees and Immigrants.
Close to 300 participants were welcomed by the musical group "Generations Alpha Omega" who sang for almost 20 minutes. The day was animated by Brian McDonough, Director of the Social Action Office at the Archdiocese of Montreal.
The theme of the day was "Church without frontiers, Mother to all," his Holiness Pope Francis' message for the 101st World Day of Migrants and Refugees (2015), and began with a reading of the letter. Afterward participants were asked to answer questions and invited to respond to the group at large in their own language.
The symbol dominating the celebration was that of a boat with Fr. Pierangelo Paternieri wearing the captain's hat! The group was asked, "Where are YOU on the boat in the Church of Montreal? In the front (leadership)? With the engine? At the back?" Ms. Maria Mourani, Member of Parliament for the riding of Ahuntsic, shared she was proud to be in front as a politician, as a Christian, and stated "it is God who guides us."
To close the celebration, a Sri Lankan dance on fishing was performed by a troupe from Our Lady of Deliverance parish (Tamuls).
His Holiness' letter concludes with a reminder that even Mary and Joseph were immigrants, and as they "kept alive the confidence that God would never abandon them," this gathering was living proof how that idea lives through the generous spirit of the people in the Church of Montreal.