Sisters and Brothers to Us
Sisters and Brothers to Us
Modeste Munimi SVD
In the faces of immigrants, we contemplate the image of Christ who said, “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me” (Matt. 25:35). Immigrants form part of the daily panorama of our communities, cities, and churches. Above all, they are human beings loved by God and created with innate dignity and rights. They have personal stories and come from many countries and cultures. Immigrants leave behind family, relatives, and friends to survive, to look for a better life, or to give a better future to their loved ones left behind.
These newcomers face difficult circumstances as they begin life over again, look for a job, and integrate themselves into a new society different from their homeland. It is not easy for them, but it is possible thanks to the work of many non-governmental organizations, associations, Caritas, and religious congregations. Divine Word Missionaries is one of them.
Two years ago, Father Marcel Kakrabah-Quarshie SVD began to reach out to a group of ten sub-Saharan immigrants in the parish of Our Lady of Carmen in Seville, Spain. Today, the group has hundreds of immigrants, mostly from Nigeria and Ghana. From the beginning, they have gathered to celebrate the Holy Eucharist in English. After Mass, they meet in the parish hall, where they have refreshments and share their joys and sorrows.
“It is the only moment of the week that I experience interior peace. I forget the daily sufferings and struggles. The time in the Mass celebrated by Fr. Marcel and later the sharing with the other brothers who live in the same situation like me give me back hope,” confesses one of the immigrants.
Our Lady of Carmen parish offers some services for immigrants. The Association Casa de Todos (the House of All) was also established in Seville to provide services to them. The Religious Sisters of the Assumption, the Marists, and Divine Word Missionaries are partners in the initiative.
The Association Casa de Todos offers language courses, counseling, job assistance, a food program, and limited economic assistance to immigrants, unemployed people, the homeless, and poor families at risk of social exclusion. Qualified personnel such as teachers, psychologists, social workers, and cooks work together with volunteers from the parish and the wider community. They are united in spirit and action as they welcome and serve their sisters and brothers in Christ with compassion and respect.
(To preserve the privacy of the clients of Association Casa de Todos, only photos of personnel and volunteers are included with this article.)
Modeste Munimi SVD is from Impasi, Democratic Republic of Congo. After he was ordained in 2006, Father Modeste received his mission assignment to Spain. He has an academic background in journalism and social communications. Presently, he is the coordinator for communications for Divine Word Missionaries' Province in Spain and is the coordinator for communications at the Society's headquarters in Rome. He serves as chaplain for African immigrants in Madrid, Spain.
Divine Word Missionaries Magazine, Vol. LVIII No.2 Spring 2015 issued quarterly.