1. Filipino Priests Serving Migrants
The Filipino priest serves as bridges between the migrants and the local parish. He caters to the migrants’ peculiar needs as Filipinos, and to the extent possible guides the migrants into full participation in the life of the diocese abroad. (EM 77-78)
- Both creating a ghetto that isolates the Filipino migrants from the local Church, and assimilation to the extent that the Filipino identity disappears, are extremes incompatible with his role.
- He encourages the Filipino migrants to bring the Gospel message wherever God has placed them at present, contributing to the vigor of the local Church.
The Filipino Chaplain (Officially Appointed by a Diocese Abroad)
- Though he remains incardinated in his Philippine Diocese or Religious Congregation, he is a guest priest in the host diocese where he serves the migrants. He is therefore is a presbyter of the host diocese to all effects: receiving indications from the local Bishop and his Vicars (not only with regards to work with migrants); attendance in clergy meetings, recollections, retreats and conferences; possible role in the presbyteral council; fostering unity between migrants and the local population; etc. (EM 79)
- It would be best if there is a written guide for communities and groups under your care. This guide would include the requirements of the Diocese and of the Chaplaincy.
- The Philippine Church has the responsibility of preparing priests to care for Filipinos abroad. (EM 75)
For Priests Invited by Filipino Communities
- Kindly always ask the Community for the name and celfone number of their local parish priest, their Filipino Chaplain, and if appropriate, the priest in charge of Migrantes in the Diocese, so that you could make a courtesy visit or at least a phone call to each of them. Also check with them if the diocese requires a Mandatum for you to celebrate Mass.
- Ask the Filipino Chaplain of the area (or the parish priest, the diocesan Migrantes in charge, or the National Coordinator for the Pastoral Care of Filipino Migrants) for a background and the status of the inviting community. Also provide them with updates on the Filipino community who invited you.
- In general, if it is a particular covenant group that invites you to a regular Mass, please make sure that the Mass is open to all Filipinos, and not exclusive to the group. By organizing the Mass, the group serves the whole Filipino community in the area.
The National Coordinator for Filipinos in a Country
- Designated by a host country’s Bishops’ Conference (upon recommendation by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines), the National Coordinator is more of a help for the Filipino Chaplains rather than for the migrants themselves. (EM 73) He may of course also be designated as chaplain for the Filipinos in a specific diocese.
- He is an expression of the local Church’s care for the Filipino Chaplains. He is not the Filipino Chaplains’ representative but exercises fraternal vigilance, moderates and acts as a link among the various communities. (EM 73)
- He has no direct competence over the Filipino Chaplains or the migrants, who are in fact all under the jurisdiction of local parishes. (EM 74)
- For the above reasons, the National Coordinator for Filipinos has to maintain close contact with the Filipino Chaplains, and with the host country’s national and diocesan directors for Migrants. (EM 74).
- The Migrantes office of a country might have lists and contacts of Filipino Chaplains officially designated by the dioceses, the priest in charge of migrants in each diocese, and the number of Filipinos in every province or region (as provided by the Government). With this information, he could study how to reach out to Filipinos who might have been isolated from the Church.
- For now in Europe, there is only one National Coordinator appointed by a Bishop’s Conference, that of Italy.
For the Migrantes Office of Host Dioceses
- The Filipino Chaplains and Communities need your orientation and indications for the pastoral care of migrants.
- This would not be so much on how to care for the Filipinos (which we Filipinos know better), but rather on diocesan policies and procedure for the care and relations with migrants in general.
- For example, what documents do you need from Filipino Priests celebrating Masses? Sometimes, sad to say, there could be fake Priests or Priests not in good standing with his Bishop or Religious Superior, and might be going around without the proper permission. This also happens back home in the Philippines.
- What are your requirements to recognize a Filipino Community?
- What are your policies regarding places of worship?
- What happens if a local parish priest hosting Filipino activities, or the diocesan Migrantes in charge, is changed?
- We Filipinos have particular ways of expressing our Catholic Faith. We are the third largest Catholic country in the world (after Brazil and Mexico), and 85% are Catholics. Around 60% of Asian Catholics are Filipinos.
- The first generation migrants really love to have Filipino Masses every Sunday. On the other hand, their children born in here could feel more like locals than Filipinos. Many prefer to hear a homily in the local language rather than in Filipino.
- For this reason (especially in countries where their children grow and settle down), it would be ideal if some Filipino families who are ready could be invited by the local parish priest to join the parish activities, just like any other parishioner. They can participate in the local Masses with their children, and can join the other ministries and services along with the local and other parishioners.
- This way their children could be fully inserted into the local parishes, and can even invite their non-Filipino friends to join the Masses in the local language.
Reference: “EM” = Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi (The Love of Christ Towards Migrants, an Instruction by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Vatican City, 2004)
(work in progress, suggestions and comments most welcome please)