Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen visited Sacred Heart Church Blackheath on Sunday 26 August for Migrant and Refugee Sunday.
Bishop Long fled Vietnam on a refugee boat in 1979, following two of his brothers who had already left, and reached Malaysia, where he spent 16 months in a refugee camp where he learned English. He reached in Australia in 1980.
In his homily he discussed Pope Francis’ invitation to be “Welcoming, Protecting, Promoting and Integrating towards Migrants and Refugees”.
Members of the parish who had arrived in Australia as refugees or migrants from 1949 to 2012 participated in the Mass. They had come from Germany, Lithuania, Egypt, Iran, Kenya, China, Philippines and one of the co-celebrants came from Timor Leste One of the Prayers of the Faithful;
Read in Lithuanian by Rasa, whose family fled from Lithuania in 1944, migrating to Australia in 1949.
For our political leaders, legislators, and those in public office.
May they enhance laws that welcome, protect, promote, and integrate migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.
PAUSE – then please read IN ENGLISH – Let us pray to the Lord.
Pat Drummond sang his very moving Who is that Refugee?, which Bishop Long responded to as ‘a hell of a song’
The concluding remarks to the congegration written by David Buckley said
” We at Sacred Heart Blackheath are certainly a multi-cultural and diversely ethnic community – with so many coming to Australia as migrants, refugees, displaced people or asylum seekers – each with their own special story.
But the story continues – as part of the Diocesan Journey that Bishop Vincent launched 12 months ago. Through the input of several of our parishioners, we certainly have been Walking with Refugees and People Seeking Protection and I would like to briefly acknowledge just a few examples of this…..”
His examples included “our Iranian asylum seeker who was helped in his successful application for a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa” and a woman and her son who are seeking asylum. They supported the young son to attend kindergarten when their Centrelink payments were canceled and he is being supported as he starts school.