Roma pastoral care organized by Hungarian Catholics

09 September 2021
The Roma pastoral care in Hungary was introduced on the Eucharistic Congress on Thursday with the title One Bread and One Body.

The event beforehand of the faculty of the Eucharistic Congress on Roma pastoral care was the premiere of the Mass in Lovar language at the morning Mass. At the faculty, Bishop János Székely of Szombathely County, Chairman of the Roma Pastoral Committee of the Hungarian Catholic Episcopal Conference, spoke in Romani about the largest minority of Roma in Europe, with a population of 13 million within the EU. According to the teaching of Scripture, God especially loves the poor and the suffering, and Gypsies, without a home, very often live in extreme poverty on the fringes of our societies. In Hungary, in recent decades, these Roma communities have come a long way with the help of the majority society - he explained and added that 91 percent of Roma children in Hungary complete 8th grade primary school, and 2-3 percent of higher education students are also Roma youngsters.

The bishop pointed out that the Christian faith had a huge role to play in catching up, for if a person understands and feels that he is a child of God just like anyone else, "he will have a completely different attitude towards his family, his work, he will be freed from the bondage of passions, he will have a different view towards learning and towards his whole life”.

He recalled the Greek Catholic priest Miklós Sója, who had helped the Roma from the world of poor makeshift sheds (putri) to a more humane, Christian life in the village of Hodász for four decades. Bishop Székely also mentioned his own experiences: he had glasses made for a neglected gypsy small child living in deep poverty, and this young child later returned to him several times as an honorable family father. He kept the glasses and all his children were baptized by the bishop. But it was also touching the case of a drug-addicted Roma young man who, kneeling in front of the cross, promised not to touch drugs anymore. He finished school, earned a driving license and a job and also restored his relationship with his family.

The head of the Roma pastorate explained that today they operate 95 community houses, Roma vocational colleges and schools, and the training of staff helps their work so that the Roma can hear the good news of the gospel not only from outside but also from their own people.

During the two-hour faculty, Roma and non-Roma pastors and secular staff dealing with gypsy pastoralism testified to their faith, schools, vocational colleges dealing with Roma education and Roma culture were introduced in the form of dance, music, poetry and magic in a witty context. At the end of the faculty, Roma and non-Roma believers marched with gypsy music to the chapel in the Hungexpo area for a glorification.