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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move - N° 93,  December 2003, pp. 339-341

A Word of Thanks at the End

of the Fifth World Congress


Card. Stephen Fumio HAMAO

President of the Pontifical Council for the

Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

Giving thanks is our duty and joy and at the same time a risk. This is simply because the presence of so many people contributing to this Congress means there is the danger of failing to mention one or even more of them. But allow me to take that risk.

First of all, we thank God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, through whose goodness we have safely come to this Congress. For all that we have shared, all that has enriched us or inspired us to reflect or make good resolutions for the future, all the consolation we have received – for all of this we thank our merciful Father in Jesus Christ, moved by his Holy Spirit.

Next we want to thank our Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ, who kindly received us Thursday and offered us an encouraging word. He did this despite the physical challenges he has to face daily. I am sure I can assure him of the thanks of all of you.

God makes of us his instruments for doing good, for consoling, for strengthening. So I want to mention at least some of the people whom God has directly used to make this Congress a success. First of all, the participants of this Congress: You are the ones who have given shape to it. Thank you for your contributions and your presence, especially those of you who have made real sacrifices and suffered humiliating treatment to come to Rome. It has been worthwhile.

Then, none of this could have happened without the willing contribution of my closest coworkers. In particular I want to thank the Secretary of our Pontifical Council, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, who took in hand the organization and coordination of all the details of the Congress. Together with him were Fr. Michael Blume, our Undersecretary, and all the members of staff, who have generously contributed their services to the Congress, not as a job, but as their mission and vocation. It would be impossible to list all the things they have been doing. But it is possible to say to you, thank you from all my heart.

I am grateful to the Missionary Sisters of Saint Charles, who even contributed one of their own sisters, bringing her from Brazil, to start preparing details of this Congress more than a year ago. For the last two weeks she has been joined by some of her sisters and even by members of their General Council to do the day to day work of keeping the business of this congress moving forward. The Scalabrinian Sisters likewise set the tone of this Congress by designing its logo, with the welcoming symbol of the Church. My sincere thanks to all of you.

A special thanks for all who have prepared conferences, papers for workshops and other presentations, the presidents and secretaries of workshops. Your input has been invaluable.   Many of you have rewritten your texts, sometimes several times, to stay within the time restraints of the Congress. Thank you once again.

Then there are our friends from Migrantes, who so ably organized the cultural evening, along with their groups, whose members really had to sacrifice to come and meet us here. We are likewise grateful to the musicians, singers and other artists who added life coming from many cultures to our liturgies and meetings. 

Our hosts here at the Istituto Patristico Augustinianum merit special mention. They have made available this building and its facilities at a reasonable cost and have been with us to make sure everything functioned well. Thank you.

We also manifest special gratitude to the “Consolata” Mission Institute for having hosted some of the Congress workshops.

We do not want to forget the people who helped keep us awake and nourished: those involved in our much appreciated coffee break and in our restaurant, the Giardinaccio and the Istituto Santa Maria Bambina and the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

There are also special benefactors, without whose generous financial help this Congress could not have been held. Let me start with the Episcopal Conference of Japan, then the Archdiocese of Toronto, through Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, the Archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, and the Scalabrinian Missionaries. In addition there were Catholic aid agencies who have helped World Congresses of the past and have once again affirmed it this year too. They are: Adveniat, Aid to the Church in Need, Misereor, Missio Aachen and Renovobis.

Three banks have also continued their past support and once again affirmed their commitment to sponsoring this project, with its many social implications: the Banca d’Italia, the Banca IntesaBci S.p.A., and the Banca Popolare di Vicenza.

We also want to thank the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops who presided over the Eucharistic celebrations of every day as well as their Eminences, the Cardinals, who accepted to preside at the sessions of every day. 

Many thanks also to the group that worked on the Final Document and the Appeals and dedicated much time and effort to this effort. Special gratitude goes to the Presidents and Secretaries of the Discussion Groups, without whose contributions there would have been no Final Document.

We were also privileged to have a special visit to the Sistine Chapel. Thanks to the staff of the Vatican Museums whose generosity with their time at an unusual hour made it possible.

Let us also give a warm hand to our translators, both those in this hall and those who worked over many months prior to our meeting to get documents ready in several languages. They have been crucial in the ability to communicate cross-culturally among us. Thank you so much.