Oblates Gather for International Immigration Symposium in Toronto
July 1st, 2009
Oblates from North America, Asia-Oceania, Europe, Africa/Madagascar and Latin America gathered in Toronto from June 8-12 to learn, strategize and sensitize themselves on the challenges of migrants and immigrants in every area where the Oblates are working. It was also a moment to share the distributions of migrants where Oblates work. This is the first Oblate international symposium on migration, and was convened by the Assumption Province in collaboration with the Oblate General Administration in Rome.
Among those representing the United States Province were members from the JPIC provincial committee who participated in and presented at the symposium: Fathers Bill Morell, Daniel LeBlanc, Bill Antone, and Bob Wright OMI. Also participating from the U.S. Province were Fathers Ron Young (a member of the organizing committee and the process facilitator), Jim Loiacono, Pablo Hughes and Antonio Ponce, the last two from our Tijuana mission and representing the Latin American region from their years in various parts of Latin America.
Below are some brief reflections in their own words from participants about the migration symposium in Toronto.
- It is always great to join other oblates from different continents; sharing the same table to discuss emerging issues facing the world. Migration is happening everywhere but response and integration is different. As Oblates, we have history of doing ministry amongst migrants. This symposium provides that forum to celebrate our work, share experiences, ideas and response in a unique oblate way. Bill Morell OMI
- I was surprised to learn about the vastly differing policies about immigration and citizenship in various countries, and grateful and proud to meet the Oblates who are doing such good transcultural and interreligious ministry in these places. I was also surprised to realize that the U.S. admits so many more immigrants than other countries, without ignoring the justice challenges in current U.S. immigration policy. Bob Wright OMI
- The international Oblate Symposium on Migration held June 8th to 12th in Canada was an excellent opportunity to meet with many Oblates and collaborators from various parts of the world. I must give my thanks to the Provincial and members of Assumption Province who so graciously received us all. I am also grateful to have been asked to collaborate in many ways in this event, both as part of the organizing committee and as presenter for the Canada-US Region. I extend a debt of gratitude to all the Oblates from the region that assisted me in preparing and in presenting the situation in our region. Daniel LeBlanc OMI
- “We urge respect and observance of all just laws, and we do not approve or encourage the illegal entry of anyone into our country. From a humanitarian perspective, however, our fellow human beings, who migrate to support their families, continue to suffer at the hands of immigration policies that separate them from family members and drive them into remote parts of the American desert, sometimes to their deaths. This suffering should not continue. Now is the time to address this pressing humanitarian issue which affects so many lives and undermines basic human dignity.” —CARDINAL FRANCIS GEORGE, OMI ARCHBISHOP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS, Statement from the USCCB Annual Spring Meeting, San Antonio. JUNE 18, 2009.