The large number of participants shows the importance of this meeting on the eve of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The Chaplains themselves refer to this meeting as “historical event” and “great opportunity”. The meeting was not only a festive reunion and an informative meeting, but an avenue for communication, dialogue and sharing among the members of the Philippine Communities in six various Chaplaincies all over Germany. Apart from the colorful sharing of many events and activities from each Community, the meeting showed deep concern on the alarming reality of many undocumented Filipinos in Germany.
The day started with the Lecture of Msgr. Wolfgang Miehle, the National Director of the German Bishops’ Conference on Migrants and Itinerant People. He gave an informative Lecture on the brief history of Migration in Germany. He mentioned that there are about 6,76 Million foreigners in Germany, which compise around 8.2% of the whole population. There are between 500,000 to a million undocumented migrants, many of whom are Catholics. He also mentioned the Church’s concern on the situation of migrants coming to Germany through the 394 Church Communities and Missions, many of which are affected by the financial crisis in many dioceses. He praised the Filipinos and Asians for their family values, joy in the expression of the faith and in their spirit of solidarity. On the contrary, he stressed the areas which need special attention: the sects, the youth and the undocumented migrants. His presence during the meeting shows the concern of the German Church on the plight of the many Filipino Migrants who have been in Germany for more than 30 years.
The Chaplains with their Pastoral Workers who were represented during the Pastoral Meeting were: Fr. Willie Escalante SVD (Diocese of Hamburg), Fr. Jun de Ocampo SVD (Archdiocese of Cologne), Fr. Louis Collantes (Archdiocese of Freiburg/ Diocese of Rottenburg/Stuttgart), Fr. Dietmar
Weber OSC (Diocese of Essen) and Fr. Adonis Narcelles Jr. SVD (Archdiocese of Berlin). The Diocese of Limburg where the Philippine Community in Frankfurt belongs to was represented by lay leaders. Consul Gary Auxilian of the Philippine Consulate in Bonn who said, “We are blessed to be here,” also gave information how the Consulate can work together with the different communities. The different Communities were given the chance to introduce their history, events, problems, challenges and other relevant matters to the plenum.
At the end of the meeting, the four suggestions presented by Msgr. Miehle were again discussed, namely: common publication, pastoral council and contact person, common activities and yearly events, strengthening contact with the National Director and events for the youth. The plenum decided to meet again on June 14, 2008, on the Healing Miracle Rally with Fr. Fernando Suarez at the Divine Word Mission Seminary in Sankt Augustin, Germany to plan for common events in 2009 and to discuss in particular the situation of undocumented Filipinos in Germany.
The participants in this Meeting came from 22 German cities namely: Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Leverkusen, Hamburg, Bonn, Gummersbach, Karlsruhe, Ratingen, Kuckenheim, Wedel, Gerlingen, Cologne, Frechen, Meckenheim, Sankt Augustin, Essen, Stuttgart, Freiburg, Bergheim, Friedrichsdorf, Bonn-Beuel and Berlin. This first Pastoral Meeting stressed the Philippine Communities’ concern and solidarity with the many undocumented Filipinos in Germany. Confronted with this reality, the Church which has been a refuge for these brothers and sisters without legal papers, tries to address this issue with caution and care. A Working Committee on Social Issues was then created to study, research and suggest means to alleviate this problem- a challenge not only for the Church and the State, but for every person. adonissvd.multiply