A Reflection by Fr. Adrian F. Meaney MSC on Refugees

For many years our (MSC Mission) Office has also provided finance, religious literature and more recently containers full of items of furniture etc. to be used, among others, by refugees. Ever since I offered Mass for the survivors of the Tampa many years ago, my heart has been distressed and perplexed by the cruel solutions we offer total strangers. Scripture says to welcome the stranger.

The Pacific Solution is NO SOLUTION but a woeful example of not trying hard enough. It is not too late to act with compassion. Australia must solve her problems at home, and not dump them overseas. I was told by one of the citizens of Nauru that the present solution is disastrous, and will ultimately cause great harm to the Islanders From everything I saw, read and hear I must say the keeping of refugees on Nauru is devoid of logic, fairness and compassion.

While on the Island I visited refugees now living outside the camps in their new cramped rooms. Also with Sr. Anna OLSH, I visited one of the Camps with the Parish Youth Group and sang Christmas Carols along with them. While in the camp I spoke to many of the refugees, and gave some encouraging words about the Good News of Jesus. Many of the refugees we met came from Sri Lanka and French speaking parts of Africa.

Sr. Anna Kaburoro OLSH from Kiribati some years ago cared for me for 5 days when I was very sick in hospital at Majuro in the Marshall Islands. I have come to greatly admire her kindness, but even more so as I see her unassuming ministry to the refugees on Nauru. She once wrote to me. “When Nauru re-opened the refugee Camp I immediately resolved to help these suffering people. During the last years my love for them has grown deeper and deeper. They are greatly hurt and seek peace. Since working with them I have seen many changes in their lives. They are open and willing to share their sad stories, and how they have been tortured and persecuted in so many ways. I have been able to assist eight families to be received into the Church. They approach me and ask for this assistance. They want to send their children to our Parish School.”

Each Sunday a number of refugees, both those outside the camps and those still inside, attend the Sunday Mass. Fr. Simon, a rather quiet man from Kiribati, also offers Mass inside the Camps. Normally he has three Masses every Sunday.