Migrants and refugees: in the heart of a pilgrim Church without borders/panama

Migrants and refugees: in the heart of a pilgrim Church without borders/panama

Heeding the call that General Congregation XX made to us with such passion, in order to respond to the project of Human Migration, for the community of Clayton this involved beginning to seek, research and discover a reality that we did not know, but was very much in our context. Since then, being few Sisters, and elderly, we began networking.

We wanted to become involved and have it affect our lives with the certainty that we would not be alone and that the work would be in collaborative solidarity. The first ally in this mission would be the ACI Family “Puente” (bridge). With the information and contacts we obtain for this purpose, we visualized our projects; the communitarian like that of the ACI Family Puente.

The Pastoral team in conjunction with our Diocese had integrated into its Department of Justice and Peace, the Ministry of Human Migration that since 1999 has conducted the Program of Humanitarian Assistance and Support to the local integration of the population with need for international protection. This program began in the Apostolic Vicariate of Darién, but since January of 2014, has been part of the Department of Social Ministry of the Archdiocese of Panama.

In this same year, in our country, the Department of Justice and Solidarity of the CELAM (Latin American Episcopal Council) held the First Congress of Ministries of Human Migration, with the representation of pastoral organizations from different countries. Participating in the organization were the Missionaries and Missionary Sisters of San Carlos (Scalabrinians), The Jesuit Network for Latin American and Caribbean Migrants (RJM-LAC), the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN) and the Latin American Secretariat of Caritas Social Ministry. Moreover, it included representatives of the four pastoral areas; Migrants and Refugees, Apostolate of the Sea, Ministry to Tourists, and Ministry to Itinerants.

Having learned about all of this pastoral work and organization, our commitment was to participate in the Center for Integral Accompaniment (CAI) – Hogar Luisa. This program sponsored by the High Commission of the United Nations for Refugees (ACNUR) and supported by agreements with organs of civil society, lay collaborators and solid support of benefactors of the work, offers humanitarian assistance and accompaniment to the migrants and refugees that arrive in Panama.

The experience has been energizing. We are sharing with others, involving our educational community, learning from the work of the laity. Especially from this Center, which by means of the integral accompaniment that it offers (social, psychological, legal, pastoral) allows us to contribute our little grain of sand to help to meet this growing challenge.

Nevertheless, it pains us to see that because of the global emergency that we are suffering from in these moments, our intinerant brothers, in addition be being excluded, become invisible in our society. However, we also recognize that putting our charism into practice, we continue listening to the call to “do whatever we can and all that we can” for them: paths of hope, of compassion and of tenderness.

Neila Young, aci