Educate Youth about Migration: Bishop in South Africa to Migrants’ Home Countries

Bishop Joseph Mary Kizito o South Africa's Aliwal Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

There need for countries where migrants come from to educate young people about migration, the Bishop overseeing the Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees department of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has said. 

In an interview with ACI Africa following the fourth Cross Border Conference that was held on August 19, Bishop Joseph Mary Kizito cautioned against illegal immigration, describing it as a “big problem” to host countries.  

“Countries of origin have got a lot of responsibilities. Countries of origin should have awareness education programs about migration for young people, for the youth, for the young boys and girls before they migrate to another country,” Bishop Kizito said during the Monday, August 22 interview.

The Local Ordinary of South Africa’s Aliwal Diocese said that awareness about migration needs to be incorporated in the youth programs in the churches and community forums.

“The emphasis should be on civic education about the importance of migrating through legal means,” Bishop Kizito said, adding that the process of immigrants seeking asylum “becomes very difficult for the host country” when dealing with “undocumented migrants”.


The Ugandan-born Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Aliwal Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in February 2020 recalled the August 19 fourth Cross Border Conference that brought together representatives of the  SACBC migrants and refugees department and those of the Mozambican Episcopal Commission for Migrants, Refugees and Displaced People (CEMIRDE).

The encounter that focused on the plight of Mozambican migrants in South Africa, he said, was an opportunity to address pertinent issues such as pastoral assistance, integration, and documentation of the immigrants.

Held at Lumko Institute, Benoni in Johannesburg Archdiocese, the meeting also highlighted the vagueness in the administration of Sacraments and the keeping of records of migrants.

“It was a great discovery to learn of migrant mine workers who were baptized in the mine halls, and records kept in another Diocese. It’s a big pastoral challenge that we as the SACBC Bishops must address,” he said, recalling deliberations during the fourth Cross Border Conference that CEMIDRE and SACBC organized in collaboration with the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA).

Members of the three-nation SACBC “must address the matter with the Chaplains of these migrant communities and talk about recording keeping, because it can’t be that a person is baptized in a mine in Rustenburg Diocese for example, and the records are kept in Johannesburg (Archdiocese); this is a great challenge,” he said in reference to Catholic Bishops in Botswana, Eswatini, and South Africa.  

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Bishop Kizito underscored the need for all Sacraments to be administered in the context of a Catholic Parish, and urged Mozambican migrants “to integrate into host communities”.

Migrants from Mozambique “shouldn’t feel isolated”, the Liaison Bishop for the Migrants and Refugees of the SACBC told ACI Africa, adding that “they should join the local Parishes for the celebration of Mass, and not restrict themselves to only Portuguese Mass.”

Mozambican migrants in South Africa “should become active members in the local Church,” the native of Uganda’s Kampala Archdiocese said during the August 22 interview.

Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.