A Welcome Message
Sr. Myrna Tordillo, MSCS
Thank you for visiting our web page. We are pleased to have the opportunity to provide you with information on the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers (PCMRT). Take a moment to browse and see the dynamic facets of the Subcommittee’s work.
The Subcommittee on the Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers is one of the five subcommittees of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church. Bishop Rutilio del Riego, chairman of the Subcommittee on PCMRT and the bishops of this subcommittee, endeavor to enflesh its mission to support the pastoral outreach to new comer immigrants, refugees and people on the move Catholics from diverse cultural and social backgrounds. As staff to the Subcommittee, I and Sr. Joanna Okereke assist the bishops in their work. We are part of the team in the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church.
We hope that you will find the web page as a practical resource and a tool, and that it will serve as a catalyst in welcoming and receiving newcomer immigrants, refugees and travelers so that they become active, integrated members in the local church and community.
We would like to hear from you on how we may further enhance the webpage, so please do not hesitate to contact us. Do visit often!
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Sr. Myrna Tordillo, mscs
Sr. Myrna's Bio
Sr. Myrna Tordillo, MSCS, is a member of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, also known as Scalabrinians. Prior to joining the USCCB in January 2007, she was missioned in Mexico City for over a year, assisting in the Comisión Episcopal para la Pastoral de la Movilidad Humana de la Conferencia del Episcopado Mexicano; a volunteer in the Migration Office of the Arquidiócesis de Mexico in its pastoral outreach to detained undocumented migrants, as well as doing research on undocumented migration.
In 1998, Sister founded and was director of the Catholic Organization for Migrant Equity, a grassroots volunteer group in Maryland and Illinois. She has served her community as Provincial Councilor and Secretary from 1999-2005 in Melrose Park, Illinois. Her pastoral experiences include being a resource speaker in the Value formation seminars for seafarers and their families of the Apostleship of the Sea; in migration awareness campaign in schools in the Philippines, and in a mission outreach project to Filipino land based workers in peninsular Malaysia.
Sr. Myrna obtained a Masters degree in Theological Studies at the Ateneo de Manila University, School of Theology, Philippines.
A Welcoming Message from Sr. Joanna
Sr. Joanna Okereke, HHCJ
Bob Roller - Photographer
Welcome to the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers! As a subcommittee of the USCCB Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, we are charged with the pastoral care of migrants, refugees, and travelers from every walk of life, and we commit ourselves to establishing and facilitating programs for their pastoral wellbeing.
The Subcommittee has a special responsibility to unite itself in solidarity with our brothers and sisters arriving from foreign lands; three major groups within this area of pastoral care are immigrants from Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean Islands. We provide a voice for the hopes, dreams, and struggles that arise in their effort to achieve full integration into and active participation in the life of both the local Church and of society. Part of this effort includes raising awareness of the challenges and opportunities that face immigrants to the United States.
One major way in which we facilitate and liaise with these many ethnic communities is through the appointment of national advisors. Representatives are chosen for the various African, Caribbean, and European communities to serve as national advisers to the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers. These appointees serve the Church by leading their communities in their respective dioceses as facilitators of ministries, publications, gatherings, and other such methods of outreach. They are also responsible for providing reports to the Subcommittee, so that we are better equipped to meet the needs of these groups.
Another way in which we promote and celebrate the many cultures that are present within our Church is through our sponsorship of a variety of events, such as the “Annual African Catholic Day of Prayer” and “One With the Family: A Colloquium on African and Caribbean Presence in the Catholic Church in the United States.” Many organizations hold annual gatherings, such as the national and regional gatherings of the Caribbean Catholics of North America, the annual gathering of the National Association of African Catholics in the United States, the annual conference of the Brazilian Ministry, the annual gathering of the African Conference of Catholic Clergy and Religious in the United States, Hungarian regional gatherings, the annual convention of the National Center of the Haitian Apostolate, and the annual conference of the Igbo Catholic Community USA. Other events include Sunday Masses celebrated in the native languages of various ethnic communities and the Youth Leadership Conference and Heritage month celebrated by the Polish American Catholics. The Cameroonians, Ghanaians, Eritreans, Igbos [Nigeria], Kenyans, Sudanese, and Ugandans also each sponsor a National Day of Prayer for their own communities.
We invite you to celebrate and learn more about the rich and diverse cultures within the Catholic Church by participating in our programs, conferences, workshops, and seminars, and by joining the various Catholic national organizations and support groups of your community. Also, be sure to take advantage of the information and resources provided here on our website.
Thank you for your interest in the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers. We welcome you as collaborators in our outreach to ensure that new immigrants have the necessary pastoral support as they settle in America, their new home, and we look forward to seeing you at our events!
Sr. Joanna’s Bio
SR. JOANNA OKEREKE, HHCJ is currently the program coordinator for the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C. Sr. Joanna is a member of the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus and celebrated her Silver Jubilee last October. During her 25 years as a religious sister, she has worked in many different missions and capacities.
Her professional experiences have always been a major source of inspiration, spiritual growth and social involvement in her life and community. Before she left Nigeria to come to the United States in 1996, she spent some time working as the financial administrator of three Catholic schools, and later became the principal of one of those schools. In 1996 she was commissioned to join in the work of her congregation in the United States. She first served as a pastoral assistant and later as the director of the Kuumba Center, a creative center at St. James and St. Juliana Catholic Church in Alexandria, Louisiana. After that she became an administrative assistant at the Pastoral Center of the Catholic Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, as well as the financial administrator of her religious order. In 2002 she was elected the mission superior of her congregation here in the United States and served in this capacity until 2005. She began working at the USCCB in 2006 as the coordinator of ethnic ministries for Migration and Refugee Services before transitioning into her role as program coordinator for the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church, Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers in 2007.
Sr. Joanna currently serves as the president of the African Women Religious Conference in the United States, the president of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area Chapter of the African Conference of Catholic Clergy and Religious in the United States, and the coordinator for the National Association of African Catholics in the United States.