The annual Mass for Migrants on the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, celebrating the significant contribution made by migrants to the life of the Dioceses of Brentwood, Southwark and Westminster, took place in Westminster Cathedral on Bank holiday Monday 2 May 2022.
Ahead of Mass, members of Ethnic Chaplaincies from all three dioceses took part in a vibrant, colourful banner procession, leading into the Cathedral.
Bishop Michael Campbell OSA was the principal celebrant, along with around 30 ethnic chaplains and other priests, including Brentwood’s Fr Dominic Howarth. Ecumenical guests in choir included the Church of England Bishop of Chelmsford Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani.
As is customary, there were testimonies from a couple of guests about some of the issues that affect refugees and migrants. This year, there was also a testimony from Fr Andriy Tsyaputa from the Ukrainian community who spoke about the situation in Ukrainian Churches, saying that they “are still open and launching large-scale humanitarian help during the war”.
“While others are fleeing, local churches are engaging. They’re bravely rushing to help those in need right now. They’re unstoppable in the face of this crisis. Local believers are visiting those who are fleeing, and sharing God’s love with them.”
“And we all understand that the church in Ukraine is still standing, because of your help. Thank you for praying for Ukraine. Thank you for helping us.”
Music was led by the Youth and Caribbean Music Ministry of Ss Michael & Martin, Hounslow. The choir from the Ukrainian Catholic Church added to the commemoration with several post-Communion hymns. Members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church were warmly welcomed by the congregation.
The Mass was organised by the Caritas and Justice and Peace agencies of the three Dioceses, with participation from Ethnic Chaplaincies and London Citizens.
The Migrants Mass has been celebrated every year since 2006, when it was initiated by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, then Archbishop of Westminster, at the suggestion of London Citizens. The Cardinal called for a more just treatment of migrant workers at that first Mass, an important act of witness. The Mass is held annually, hosted in turn by one of the three Dioceses of Brentwood, Southwark and Westminster for the feast of St Joseph the Worker as a celebration of the valuable contributions made by so many migrants to the life and economy of London and the surrounding counties. The Mass is also a sign of the Catholic community’s solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers.
There is a gallery of photos below. Further photos of the event are available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/catholicwestminster/albums/72177720298581088
Full text of Fr Andriy Tsyaputa’s testimony:
Dear priests, brothers and sisters in Christ. First of all, I want to apologise for my accent and English language, I am still learning.
I would like to tell you about the situation in our Ukrainian churches. I came from Ukraine recently. Churches in Ukraine are still open and launching a large-scale humanitarian help during the war. Christians are delivering aid to everybody who needs help. Supported by your prayers and donations, every Catholic church in Ukraine providing food, clothes, medicines and all required equipment for thousands of people. Many Ukrainians have no place where to live, because war erupts around them. So they live in churches, in monasteries or seminaries. Thousands of displaced people are housed safely in church buildings every night.
Churches across Ukraine continue to provide spiritual and material support to war victims even in areas under heavy attack or already overrun by Russian forces. The Catholic Church continues to be active in all regions, even in those that are under occupation. They gather for services and prayer and organise help for all they can.
While others are fleeing, local churches are engaging. They’re bravely rushing to help those who are in need right now. They’re unstoppable in the face of this crisis. Local believers are visiting those who are fleeing, and sharing God’s love with them.
And we all understand, that the Church in Ukraine is still standing, because of your help. Thank you for praying for Ukraine. Thank you for helping us. Thank you for supporting Ukraine. I know that the United Kingdom is helping more than other countries. God bless you. God bless the United Kingdom.