The Feast of St. Joseph the Worker is traditionally a day in the national calendar when people celebrate the world of work and the rights of workers. This day was also the occasion to celebrate the first Mass for Migrants to be held in the Diocese of Salford, organised jointly by Caritas and the diocese.
The special Mass for Migrants was supported by hundreds of Catholics from all corners of the Diocese of Salford who along with many refugees and asylum seekers gathered for a Mass that celebrated though a wonderful Liturgy of the Word, music and poetry the rich diversity of our society and the positive difference that other cultures have made to society through work and service.
It was an opportunity to celebrate the contribution of Migrant Workers and their families to UK society as well as recognise the challenges that migration brings to those who arrive amongst us and those who have been left behind.
In his homily, Mgr. John Daly spoke of the role model of St. Joseph who had experienced what many people are facing today – the experience of leaving their homes and fleeing persecution. He also said that the example for Pope Francis had led to an awareness and renewal in the Church of the importance of welcome and reaching out to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
The joy of the occasion was expressed through the African Choir, members of the parish of St. Mary with St. Patrick, Oldham and by young people from Ambition, a Safe Gorton youth and music project through their moving poem about refugees and their rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Pupils for Stonyhurst College and Just Youth led the readings, bidding prayers and a visual representation of the different faces of Christ from around the world and the Mass concluded with tea and coffee in the Cathedral cloister and an invitation to everyone to join the Greater Manchester Citizens mayoral assembly held in the afternoon at the Lowry in Salford Quays.
Fr Peter Hopkinson, Episcopal Vicar for Dialogue said:
“The Migrant’s Mass was really inspiring – so many people coming together from different parts of the world saying we are one in Christ. The Migrant’s Mass has given us a great foundation on which to build.
The Mass was supported by Rt. Rev John Arnold, Bishop of Salford, who said:
‘The Diocese of Salford and the wider community have greatly benefited from Migration, not just in recent years but throughout the history of migration to Greater Manchester and Lancashire.”
Our parishes have a wonderful sense of community and diversity and this Mass is an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the contribution of those who have chosen to settle and make the Diocese of Salford their home.
I look forward to the Migrants Mass playing an important role in our Church Calendar for many years to come. ‘
This Mass is already an important feature of the London Church Calendar and it is hoped that this will be the first of an annual celebration for the Diocese of Salford.