On Sunday 25 September, St Patrick’s Cathedral was alive with music, colour and joy as more than 500 people, representing 13 migrant communities, celebrated the 108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

A special Mass was celebrated at 3pm by Archbishop Peter A Comensoli, starting with a procession of Our Lady of Fatima and a Rosary led by members of different migrant communities. The statue of Our Lady was placed beneath the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, along with an image of Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, affectionately known as the ‘Father of Migrants’ and soon to be declared a saint.

This was the first Mass since 2019 where Melbourne’s migrant communities could officially be together, and was a time of radiant fellowship as many people wore their national dress, prayed the Our Father in their own language and filled the cathedral with a sense of unity and beauty.

During his homily, the Archbishop drew on St Paul’s letter to the Philippians and on the parable of Lazarus, as well as on the example of Australia’s own St Mary of the Cross Mackillop, to reflect on the experience of migration and asylum-seeking, and on the way our migrant communities have helped to shape and enrich the Catholic Church in Melbourne.

‘Each of us, but most notably you who are present for this annual Mass, know of the realities that make up a society such as ours, built in more recent decades on rolling waves of migration and asylum seeking,’ he said.

There have been hope and dreams in this reality, but also pain and heartache. For everyone, there has been the struggle of finding a new way in a new place, and learning to build a culture of love, justice and dignity. But we Christians, who look towards a distant horizon, we know that Christ has gone before us to prepare our place. And our hope is sure.

Ultimately, Archbishop Comensoli observed, no matter where we are from, we are all ‘citizens of God’s kingdom, called to bring this kingdom into the circumstances of our locations, our neighbourhoods, our places and our lives.’