Westminster Cathedral Hosts the Annual Mass for Migrants, 2nd May 2022, and shows solidarity with Ukrainian Catholic Church

Source: Diocese of Westminster

The annual Mass for Migrants, on the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, took place in Westminster Cathedral on Bank Holiday Monday, 2nd May 2022, in celebration of the significant contribution made by migrants to the life of the Dioceses of Brentwood, Southwark and Westminster.

Ahead of the Mass, members of Ethnic Chaplaincies from all three dioceses took part in a vibrant, colourful banner procession, leading into the Cathedral.

Bishop Michael Campbell OSA was the principal celebrant, along with around 30 Ethnic Chaplains and other priests. Ecumenical guests included the Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford and Dr Ric Thorpe, Bishop of Islington, for the Church of England.

As is customary, there were testimonies from a couple of guests about some of the issues that affect refugees and migrants. This year, there was also a testimony from Fr Andriy Tsyaputa from the Ukrainian community who spoke about the situation in Ukrainian Churches, saying that they ‘are still open and launching large-scale humanitarian help during the war.’

‘While others are fleeing, local churches are engaging. They’re bravely rushing to help those in need right now. They’re unstoppable in the face of this crisis. Local believers are visiting those who are fleeing, and sharing God’s love with them.’

‘And we all understand that the church in Ukraine is still standing, because of your help. Thank you for praying for Ukraine. Thank you for helping us.’

Music was led by Ss Michael & Martin, Hounslow, Youth and Caribbean Music Ministry under the direction of Mary Pierre-Harvey. The choir from the Ukrainian Catholic Church added to the commemoration with several post-Communion hymns. Members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church were warmly welcomed by the congregation.

The Mass was organised by the Caritas and Justice and Peace agencies of the three Dioceses, with participation from Ethnic Chaplaincies and London Citizens.

The Migrants Mass has been celebrated every year since 2006, when it was initiated by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, then-Archbishop of Westminster, at the suggestion of London Citizens. The Cardinal called for a more just treatment of migrant workers at that first Mass, an important act of witness.  The Mass is held annually, hosted in turn by one of the three Dioceses of Brentwood, Southwark and Westminster for the feast of St Joseph the Worker as a celebration of the valuable contributions made by so many migrants to the life and economy of London and the surrounding counties.

The Mass is also a sign of the Catholic community’s solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers.

Photos of the events are available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/catholicwestminster/albums/72177720298581088

Full Text of Fr Andriy Tsyaputa’s Testimony:

Fr Andriy Tsyaputa – Ukrainian Catholic Church

Dear Priests, brothers and sisters in Christ. First of all, I want to apologise for my accent and English language, I am still learning.

I would like to tell you about the situation in our Ukrainian churches, I came from Ukraine recently. Churches in Ukraine are still open and launching a large-scale humanitarian help during the war. Christians are delivering aid to everybody who needs help. Supported by your prayers and donations, every catholic church in Ukraine providing food, clothes, medicines and all required equipment for thousands of people. Many Ukrainians have no place where to live, because war erupts around them. So they live in churches, in monasteries or seminaries. Thousands of displaced people are housed safely in church buildings every night.

Churches across Ukraine continue to provide spiritual and material support to war victims even in areas under heavy attack or already overrun by Russian forces. The Catholic Church continues to be active in all regions, even in those that are under occupation. They gather for services and prayer and organize help for all they can.

While others are fleeing, local churches are engaging. They’re bravely rushing to help those who are in need right now. They’re unstoppable in the face of this crisis. Local believers are visiting those who are fleeing, and sharing God’s love with them.

And we all understand, that the church in Ukraine is still standing, because of your help. Thank you for praying for Ukraine. Thank you for helping us. Thank you for supporting Ukraine. I know that the United Kingdom is helping more than other countries. God bless you. God bless the United Kingdom. 

Mass for Migrants, 2nd May, 2pm, Westminster Cathedral

Regrettably, we are unable to livestream the Mass on this occasion, as previously advertised.

All are welcome to join the Dioceses and Ethnic Chaplaincies of Brentwood, Southwark and Westminster for a celebration of the annual Mass for Migrants on Monday, 2nd May 2022.

The Mass this year is hosted by the Diocese of Westminster and the celebrant is Bishop Michael Campbell OSA.

Banner bearers are invited to gather in Westminster Cathedral Hall between 1-2pm.

Please be seated in the Cathedral before the banner procession at 2pm. Mass begins at 2.30pm.

There will also be participation from London Citizens https://www.citizensuk.org/

You are warmly invited to attend in person to celebrate the significant contribution made by migrants to the life of our Dioceses.

Westminster Justice and Peace E-Bulletin May 2022

In this month’s E-Bulletin we draw attention to the Westminster Bishops Report which is based on response to the Diocesan Synodal Pathway and was published on the Diocesan website on 11th April 2022.

Westminster Bishops Synod Report

This report has been submitted to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales to contribute to a national report finalised in June and sent to the Synod Office in the Vatican in July. The reports from this global exercise will then form the basis of preparatory documents for the Synod of Bishops in October 2023.

The Bishops of Westminster Diocese wish to express their deep gratitude to all who have contributed to this Synodal Process.

There are many other events and activities advertised in the E-Bulletin.

Download a copy and peruse at leisure!

Volunteer Members sought for Westminster Justice and Peace Commission

The Diocese of Westminster has recently reviewed the terms of reference for the Justice and Peace Commission and is now embarking on a process of recruiting new volunteers to serve as members.

Between 8-11 people are being sought to assist with this advisory role, alongside four appointed members (The Chair, Co-ordinator, Staff Member for CAFOD Westminster and Staff Member for Caritas Westminster.)

“The Commission exists to promote action and reflection on peace and social justice in the Diocese of Westminster, in the light of the Gospel and Catholic Social Teaching.” (Westminster Yearbook 2022, p38)

Justice and peace issues may be local, national or international.

Accordingly, the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission will:

  • Be a visible sign of justice and peace in the Diocese.
  • Facilitate parishes, schools and individuals to form groups and networks for reflection and action on peace and justice.
  • Identify and raise awareness of injustice and its root causes, including structural injustice.
  • Promote justice and peace spirituality.
  • Dialogue and discern with the Cardinal and Bishops on justice and peace matters. 

We hope to recruit members who will reflect the full diversity of our Diocese and strongly encourage younger adults and people from ethnic minorities to apply as these groups are currently under-represented across the Justice & Peace network.

Commission membership is a voluntary role, involving four meetings a year and offering assistance on a variety of issues in between.

Please consider whether the Lord is calling you to serve in this capacity or to invite someone else you know to consider applying.

The deadline for applications is Friday, 17th June 2022.

Please email us on justiceandpeace@rcdow.org.uk or contact any member of the current Commission if you would like an informal discussion to find out more about the role.

New Welcome Centre website to assist Ukrainians arriving in UK

The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London, in partnership with the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB), have launched a website for the new Ukrainian Welcome Centre to help Ukrainians arriving in the UK.

This is a first step in providing virtual support and resources to help Ukrainians displaced by Russia’s war against their homeland, as well as their sponsors and staff of supporting organisations to access key services and up-to-date information and help. People will be able to access online resources and information, all in one place, to get support and help on such matters as healthcare, employment, housing, education, etc. The service is in Ukrainian and English.

We also plan to open a hub in central London in the coming weeks.

Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy said: “As the invasion of Ukraine has displaced many Ukrainian citizens and the UK has opened its doors, along with our partners we are launching his initiative to help Ukrainians during what is a most difficult time. The UK has a significant Ukrainian community who are looking forward to helping those settling in the UK to access crucial services to feel connected, have a sense of community and to thrive.”

Under the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme 71,800 visas have been granted to Ukrainian refugees and so far around 21,600 Ukrainians have settled in the UK.

To visit the website, please go to: www.ukrainianwelcomecentre.org

If you would like to support the initiative or have any queries, please contact press@ukrainianwelcomecentre.org

Update on the Help Ukraine Emergency Appeal

From Anna Dezyk, Organiser, 23 April 2022

This weekend, Eastern Rite and Orthodox Christian Ukrainians all over the world are celebrating Easter according to the Julian calendar. It should be a time of joy, but Russia’s war has displaced millions in Ukraine and left towns, cities and families brutally destroyed. Our partner organisation Caritas continues to work to provide comfort to thousands at this special time. Ukrainian Easter bread (paska) is a powerful talisman of hope and health. Caritas in Ternopil has distributed thousands of Easter breads and food parcels to those in need, including those displaced by war who have found safety there. Caritas in Zaporizhia is caring for hundreds who have managed to flee the destruction of Mariupol, where the Caritas hub was itself destroyed and two Caritas workers tragically lost their lives.

At this Easter time, we thank you all for your donations, which are helping to make a real difference on the ground in Ukraine.

£2,567,000 raised so far – Help Ukraine Emergency Appeal

Prayers at Home Office for those who have died seeking sanctuary

Source: Jo Siedlecka, Independent Catholic News

Campaigners gathered outside the Home Office in London yesterday for their monthly Prayer Vigil for “those who died trying to reach the UK, those who are still trying, and those who still have no safe haven.”

Organised by London Catholic Worker and Westminster Justice and Peace, there were prayers, hymns and the recitation of a list of names or descriptions of individuals who died in a single month attempting to reach Europe. While more and more people have been displaced by war, famine and climate change, harsh immigration rules make it impossible to apply for asylum in the UK – unless an individual is already in the country – forcing people to make the perilous channel crossing.

An excerpt from Archbishop Justin Welby’s Easter sermon was read out, in which he said:

“The resurrection of Jesus is not a magic wand that makes the world perfect. But the resurrection of Christ is the tectonic shift in the way the cosmos works. It is the conquest of death and the opening of eternal life, through Jesus a gift offered to every human being who reaches out to him. Not just for individuals, but setting a benchmark for every society because God is Lord of every society and nation.”

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

Reflection by Rev Chris Brice

Rev Chris Brice, Chair of London Churches Refugee Fund gave the following reflection:

“Meeting today in the shadow of the horrors of the war in Ukraine brings home all too starkly the burden of sin and evil under which our world labours, and has laboured, for millennia.

Our Judaeo-Christian story almost from its opening chapters, shows human beings, made in God’s loving and creative image, all too quickly falling into deceit, selfishness, resentment, murder, and disobedience to God’s Moral laws – seduced by the wiles of the “enemy” who is intent on destroying God’s beautiful new creation out of jealousy, bitter rage, and spite. From this follows all war and hatred, and the desire to exercise tyrannical power, that we see demonstrated so tragically today in Syria, in Ukraine, in Myanmar, in Yemen, in Eritrea, in Afghanistan, and even in the UK’s latest asylum legislation.

It was from such oppression, enslavement, and genocide that God called and rescued the children of Israel, enabling them to escape from the hell on earth that was the rule of the Pharaohs and to flee across the sea to a place of safety and security, flowing with milk and honey.

And still today this Exodus is enacted again and again as our persecuted, oppressed, and traumatised sisters and brothers flee in fear of their lives from war-torn countries across the world in search of safety. 28,000 of them last year crossed, not the Red Sea, but the English Channel, pursued by their nightmares of torture, death, rape, and imprisonment.

And it is these very people, when they arrive exhausted, alone, destitute, and distraught on the streets of London, with no means of support or shelter, that 100’s of “front line” refugee projects across London are there to help. To name just a few from the Projects supported by the London Churches Refugee Fund in 2020, are:

Action for Refugees in Lewisham. African Refugee Community. All People All Places, Article 1 Charitable Trust, Asylum from Rape, Barnet Refugee Service, C4WS Homeless Project, Citizens of the World Choir, Cotton Tree, Croydon Refugee Day Centre, Freedom from Torture, Hackney Migrant Centre, Happy Baby Community, Housing Justice, Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants, Jesuit Refugee Service, Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE), Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network, London Catholic Worker Refugee Shelter, London Jesus Centre, Migrants Organise, Migrateful, New North London Synagogue Destitute Asylum Seekers Drop-In, Notre Dame Refugee Centre, Refugee Council, Room to Heal, Samphire, Streatham Drop-In Centre, and West London Welcome.

All of them based here in London – not in Rwanda!

These, and scores of other refugee projects across London, and the people who support them, are lights shining in the darkness of war and suffering … and thanks to their work and generosity… the darkness will not overcome that light. Not even the current darkness of the asylum legislation being conceived in the building behind us.

To give just one example, amongst thousands, of someone whom one of these projects have helped in London, I now quote from a London Churches Refugee Fund Lent resource written by Trustee Robina Rafferty.

Consider Ms Z, aged 20, from Somalia, who was trafficked in the UK as an unaccompanied minor aged 16 and kept in isolation for many years in the UK. She was raped and forced into prostitution by her agents, and advised not to try to escape otherwise her family in Somalia would be in trouble. She was fearful, and suffering in silence, until one day she managed to run away. She made an application for UK asylum, but when that was refused, she lost her emergency accommodation and financial support in London. When she came to the African Refugee Community (ARC) in North London she was homeless, disoriented and suffering from severe depression. ARC supported her financially with food vouchers, transport costs, hygiene packs and phone cards using their London Churches Refugee Fund Grant. She also received advocacy, and is now in contact with a GP, mental health counsellor and a solicitor to help with her Fresh asylum application. She now feels happy when she comes to the ARC office to collect her hardship payment, and her mental, social, and physical well-being is improving gradually because of the support she receives here in the UK.

How would we cope if trafficked far away from our family and friends, our homeland? A teenager raped and forced into prostitution for years, ashamed, degraded, always afraid. No-one to turn to. Utter desperation. Even when she escaped from her captors, the UK authorities she turned to for protection let her down. But she has found support, kindness and comfort with people who respect her, treat her as a human being, responding to her needs here in London – not Rwanda.

Jesus always respected the dignity of every individual he met, however much they might be condemned or rejected by society. The lives of the woman caught in adultery, the Samaritan woman at the well, the man born blind, are all transformed by their encounter with Jesus. And He never stopped to ask them if they got to Him through official government channels, or were smuggled into His presence on a boat that had crossed the Sea of Galilee, or in a donkey cart hidden under straw and sacking. Nor did He insist on sending them on a one-way ticket to Rwanda to have their credentials checked and verified before He would agree to help them. No – He recognised their desperate need, accepted them; doing all in His power to help, heal and restore them to full dignity as fellow citizens of God’s Kingdom here on earth

As a postscript, and in the light of this reflection, I would like to sow a seed today that I trust might bear fruit. It is the seed of the intention for Christians like us to pray about, and to compose, a short, accessible, Theological Declaration about the treatment of asylum seekers, here in the UK, comparable to the Barmen Declaration that the Confessing Churches of Germany composed in the face of Nazism and Hitler’s rise to power. A Declaration rooted in Prayer, in Scripture, and in Faith in the power of God’s Word. It would consist of a series of short sharp paragraphs each of which would highlight a relevant scripture verse pertinent to the asylum crisis we now face, and a short exposition as to how this should govern and guide our asylum legislation and the treatment of asylum-seekers.

For instance: Scripture forbids us to mistreat or oppress the aliens or foreigners because we were once foreigners, and “know the heart of an alien”. In Leviticus, we are reminded even more strongly, “the land is mine” says God, “for you are strangers and live as foreigners in this land with me.” It reminds us that we are ALL sharing GOD’S world. We are ALL here through God’s grace and mercy. Treating aliens as less worthy to be here ignores the fact that we have all been given a gift from God – we have not and could not have deserved it. It is through God’s grace alone that we have the privileges we have, and knowing that grace, we are called to share it.

To Cain’s question “Am I my brother’s keeper?” – the answer very clearly is YES – YOU ARE! And your sisters too! – for their blood cries out to God from the earth, and the sea..

In the end, the only way to understand and overcome the principalities and powers of wickedness in high places that we face is the power and the wisdom of GOD operating through the prayer, the actions, and the fasting of people like us. A truth that this gathering month by month so faithfully upholds & demonstrates.

For the battle is Spiritual as well as political. In the end, it is only susceptible to action rooted in a Judaeo Christian analysis of the depth and the perversity of the ungodly powers that seek to confound and destroy God’s good purposes. That’s why Jesus came to witness, to suffer, to die, and to rise again, precisely to overcome the wiles of the evil one and the powers of all forms of death: Including all spiritual – physical- and political- death dealing.

“Truly I tell you”, said Jesus to the helpless disciples, “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this ungodly mountain of asylum legislation, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move, right off the Statute book. And nothing will be impossible for you!”. And later translations add that Jesus also insisted that to be effective the disciple’s action must be strengthened by, and grounded in, prayer and fasting. As is so admirably demonstrated in these monthly events organised by the London Catholic Worker which must surely inspire, encourage and guide us individually day by day as now seek to sustain our own life of prayer, of action and of fasting to defeat this legislation and to end the wars in Ukraine and across the world.

Let us Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, who came to bring good news to the poor, give us the courage to reach out to those who are neglected and abandoned, to see you in everyone we meet, regardless of their country of origin, and no matter how they might have reached the UK. And help us to play our part, through prayer, action and fasting in the coming of your kingdom of love and justice in the Home Office, the Ukraine and across the UK, as it is in Heaven.


The Prayer Vigil takes place outside the Home Office, 2 Marsham Street, SW1P 4DF, on the third Monday of each month from 12.30-1.30pm. For more information contact Barbara Kentish: barbarakentish@talktalk.net

Earth Day – 22nd April – Invest in Our Planet

By Amy Smith, Westminster Justice and Peace Communications Volunteer

Today, 22nd April, is Earth Day – an annual event that shines a light on the serious environmental issues that our world is facing and what actions we can take as individuals and organisation to keep temperature rises below 1.5 C and promote a greener future.

It involves a wide range of events involving 1 billion people in more than 193 countries.

The official theme for 2022 is ‘Invest in Our Planet’.

Every Earth Day can drive a year of energy, enthusiasm and commitment to create a new plan of action for our planet.

Earth Day works in countries around the world to drive meaningful action for our planet across a range of issues. For more information on the campaigns and to find out what is happening in your area this Earth Day: https://earthday.org/earth-day-2022

Earth Day Video – “We can still get the job done…”

Join the Southern Dioceses Environment Network for monthly prayer, sharing and discussion on all matters concerning the Catholic response to care of creation.
Next meeting: Monday 9th May, 12.45-2.00pm.
Click here for full details

Bishop Paul McAleenan critical of plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda

Bishop Paul McAleenan at Dover memorial to refugees drowned in the Channel. Photo: Mazur/CBCEW.org.uk

Bishop Paul McAleenan at Dover memorial to refugees drowned in the Channel. Photo: Mazur/CBCEW.org.uk

Bishop Paul McAleenan, Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has followed other faith leaders to object to the UK government’s plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda. He said in a statement today: “The proposal to send some of those seeking asylum to Rwanda is at odds with the line from the Prophet Isaiah which we read as we prepare for Easter, ‘He does not break the crushed reed nor quench the wavering flame’.

“Despite presenting the plan as a humanitarian need to combat trafficking, this scheme will compound the difficulties of those arriving on our shores hoping for a new beginning. The actions of the people of this country show that they wish to lift up those in need, decisions of the government should do likewise.

“I am reminded of a memorial plaque on the promenade in Dover honouring those who died at sea seeking refuge. ‘Every migrant has a name, a face, a story’. This should be our starting point. We need to make it convenient for them to tell their story (their Asylum claim) remembering we are dealing with individuals made in God’s image who have endured great hardships in their own country and on their travels.

“The UK Government and the whole international community, motivated by the desire to uphold the dignity of human life, need to address the problems which cause people to flee their homes.

“We pray for all refugees whose sole aim is to survive each day. Led by the Christian spirit, manifested so powerfully at Easter, we should help and not discourage them.”

In his Easter Vigil Homily, Cardinal Vincent made it clear that those who seek solutions to these challenges must do so with compassion and regard for human dignity, saying that ‘this policy announcement simply lacks these qualities.’

Next Prayer Vigil Outside the Home Office, Monday 25th April 2022, 12.30pm

You are invited to our Prayer Vigil on Monday 25th April from 12.30-1.30pm outside the Home Office, Marsham Street, SW1P 4DF

Normally every third Monday of the month, but a week later this month because of Easter.

We remember:

  • those who have died trying to reach the UK
  • the many victims of the war in Ukraine
  • those who work with asylum seekers in detention centres and those who are homeless
  • those who struggle to inject welcome and humanity into our legislation.

We believe that God will prevail, however great the disaster, however great the horror, however great the inhumanity.   

Organised by London Catholic Worker and Westminster Justice & Peace.  

For further information contact Br Johannes Maertens johanmaertens@hotmail.com or Barbara Kentish barbarakentish@talktalk.net

Caritas Westminster condemns Government’s plans to deport those seeking asylum to Rwanda

Refugees Welcome - Marcin
Photo credit: Mazur/CBCEW.org.uk

Last week, the UK government announced its plans to send people seeking asylum in this country to Rwanda, where their asylum requests would be processed by local authorities there instead. Such plans would effectively exile those who have come to the UK seeking sanctuary (many of whom have already been forced to flee their homes due to war and persecution) to places such as Rwanda, where they will be detained whilst their asylum claims are looked into – with little safeguards offered against potential human rights infringements and abuses.

Caritas Westminster condemns policies such as ‘offshoring’ asylum claims, which are both lacking in compassion and respect for human dignity.

“Caritas Westminster stands in solidarity with all people who seek humane and just solutions for those fleeing conflict and persecution. We are dismayed at the Government’s plans to deport those seeking asylum in the UK to Rwanda for resettlement. This is clearly a case of punishing the victim, not the perpetrator, and does little to recognise the underlying causes of why people are forced to migrate.

“The policy falls far too short of being compassionate and fair, and will serve only to undermine the innate God-given humanity and dignity of those individuals who will be affected by it.”

John Coleby, Director of Caritas Westminster

In his homily at the Easter Vigil – whereby he spoke of the various injustices afflicting individuals around the world – Cardinal Vincent Nichols, too, referenced the new policy, and called on Catholics to,

“Pray that those who seek solutions do so with compassion, and with regard for the dignity which is innate to every human being. This week’s policy announcement simply lacks these qualities.”

This policy proposal is part of wider government immigration reform, embodied by the Nationality and Borders Bill, which is returning to the House of Commons for final amendments to be considered on Wednesday 20th April. If passed in its current form, the Bill would create a plethora of new barriers for refugees seeking sanctuary in the UK, rather than addressing the root causes of forced migration and trafficking. 

Caritas Westminster, once again, calls upon the UK government to implement a compassionate and just asylum system, rooted in our common humanity, with the following issues addressed:

  • The asylum system should never penalise people for arriving spontaneously or without documents, or differentiate asylum claims on the basis of how people got here. Most refugees have no choice of how they travel.
  • Asylum claimants should have safe and dignified accommodation within British communities.
  • Secure safe routes to the UK and prevent dangerous Channel crossings. We need ambitious, compassionate and detailed plans that will meaningfully expand safe routes to the UK for refugees – until then, people will continue to risk dangerous journeys to reach protection and loved ones.

“Amid the pain of the war, there are also encouraging signs, such as the open doors of all those families and communities that are welcoming migrants and refugees throughout Europe. May these numerous acts of charity become a blessing for our societies, at times debased by selfishness and individualism, and help to make them welcoming to all.”

Pope Francis, Urbi et Orbi address on Easter Sunday

There is still time for you to make a difference – join us and our partners in making our society one which is welcoming to all, by opposing the Nationality and Borders Bill today, and calling on your MP to do the same, by clicking here!

For more information about:

  • The Nationality and Borders Bill and its potential impact on our asylum system, click here.
  • Volunteering at projects supporting asylum seekers and refugees, click here.