By Peter Jennings.
Archbishop Bernard Longley hosted a successful inaugural Ethnic Chaplain’s Day at Archbishop’s House, Birmingham, attended by more than a dozen ethnic chaplains from the Eritrean, Filipino, Keralan, Lithuanian, Syro-Malabar, Polish, and West Indian communities, on Tuesday 12 February.
Archbishop Longley, whose initiative it was, chaired the meeting together with Bishop Alan Hopes, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, Episcopal Liaison for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales on Ethnic Chaplains.
During the meeting, Archbishop Longley established an Ethnic Chaplaincy Group in the Archdiocese of Birmingham – the fourth after the Hospital Chaplaincy, Prison Chaplaincy, and University Chaplaincy.
Bishop David McGough and Bishop William Kenney CP, Auxiliary Bishops of Birmingham attended, together with Ms Cecilia Taylor-Camara, Head of the Office for Migration Policy for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
Archbishop Bernard Longley said: “Many different ethnic groups and cultures enrich the life of the Catholic Church across the Archdiocese of Birmingham. I am grateful to the chaplains who support these groups and help them feel at home in our parishes.”
The Archbishop of Birmingham added: “Catholics from Africa, Asia, South America and Eastern Europe have brought new energy and insights into diocesan life. They remind us what it means to be part of the Catholic Church.”
Afterwards, Bishop Alan Hopes said: “Many of those who migrate from their home countries and come to England and Wales are committed and practising Catholics. As the host Church we have a responsibility to welcome and assist these groups of people. Part of that welcome must be provision of practical and sacramental care which respects their ethnic, linguistic and cultural heritage.”
Bishop Hopes said that he was “delighted to be part of this initiative” of Archbishop Bernard Longley which has called together so many priests who are providing such care to different ethnic groups of the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
Bishop Alan Hopes added: “The new Co-ordinator will give them support and encouragement in what can often be a lonely and challenging ministry. They will also gain much strength from their meeting together as they work in communion within the life and mission of the Archdiocese.”
Archbishop Longley has appointed Fr Simon Hall, Parish Priest of St Teresa of the Child Jesus, Perry Barr, Birmingham, as the first Diocesan Co-ordinator of the Ethnic Chaplaincy.
Fr Hall said: I am looking forward to working alongside priests, religious and lay faithful in this exciting and important work. In my parish of St Teresa’s we regularly have over 40 different nationalities. Immigration has enriched and strengthened our Catholic (universal) identity and brought so much joy. “
Fr Simon Hall added: “Growing number of immigrants can only be for the good of the Catholic Church in this country – which has been for so many years a community of people from throughout the world.”