MANILA – Who could better spread the word of the Lord?
For Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, overseas Filipino workers play a big role in disseminating the “joy of the Gospel” given their sheer number.
“Our overseas Filipino migrant workers have become the big missionary presence,” Cardinal Tagle said in a press conference on Sunday.
On Sunday, Pope Francis prayed that the Santo Nino bless the Philippines and sustain Filipino Christians “in their vocation to be witnesses and missionaries of the joy of the Gospel in Asia and in the whole world”.
Government data shows that over 10 million Filipinos are living and working overseas.
“In Brunei, there are only 20,000 Catholics. But I think 70 percent are Filipinos, those who are working in Brunei,” Tagle said.
Tagle also shared that Bishop Paul Hinder of the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia is urging him to encourage more Filipinos based in the Middle East to join the vicariate. He was told that 90 percent of Hinder’s apostolic vicariate is Filipino.
“Without the Filipino workers in the Middle East, I don’t have a diocese,” Tagle quoted Hinder as saying.
Tagle said Filipino overseas workers bring their faith to wherever they go.
It is this faith that many OFWs and their families turn to prayers for guidance and strength to lessen the impact of separation caused by migration.
Tagle explained that OFWs as missionaries is “something that we did not plan”.
“There have been a lot of efforts to awaken in the Filipino church this missionary calling. In the past 50 years, we have had like the Filipino Mission Society which now is very much present in different parts of Asia. We also have the Lay Mission Association. We have lay missionaries also being sent to different parts of the world,” he said.
There are also many Filipino priests, as well as other religious men and women, working in different parts of the world.