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'Cast Into the Deep' Conference looks to pastoral support for world refugees

The Fifth National Conference of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Education Office was held at the Melbourne campus of Australian Catholic University, on 18 and 19 July. This year’s theme is 'Cast into the deep' focussed on the care of migrants and refugees who are coming to Australia—an issue that is heavily debated by the Australian public. The conference is responding to Pope Francis’ call to go out to the margins of society and 'cast into the deep' (Luke 5:4) and hosted Cardinals Turkson and Quevedo and 130 bishops, priests, religious and lay people. The focus was on pastoral support for the world’s refugees and migrants.

Cardinal Turkson, head of the Dicastery (portfolio) for the Promotion of Integral Human Development in the Vatican told how Pope Francis has re-organised offices within the Vatican to better serve the worldwide Church, combining portfolios for cultural heritage, human health, development and migration into one dicastery. While Cardinal Turkson leads the group, Pope Francis takes personal responsibility for migration and refugees. It was interesting to hear how the Vatican is being re-organised by Pope Francis to serve the world’s people, consistent with his Laudato Si vision of “integral human development”.
Cardinal Quevedo spoke of the vast movement of Filipino workers between the Philippines and other countries, primarily to support families at home. He spoke of the pressures migration places on individuals and families, and the work of migrant chaplains who support the workers and their families at home and overseas.

Other speakers discussed many aspects of support for migrants and refugees, with a general emphasis on supporting Catholic migrant communities in Australia.

Attending the Conference was an eye-opener for the author of this article (of Irish descent) - to be in a large Church gathering right here in Melbourne where Anglo/Celts were in the great minority. Archbishop of Brishbane, Mark Coleridge, told us we had better get used to this picture, because this is where the centre of gravity in the Church is moving. The Conference also illustrated how much work is done by migrant chaplains and others to support new Catholic communities in Australia. Perhaps many of us are unaware of this?



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