Fr General to meet and pray with refugees

Fr General Arturo Sosa at the closing Mass of GC36
Fr General Arturo Sosa at the closing Mass of GC36

Father General will be meeting and praying with refugees and those who work with them this afternoon, as they mark the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (this Sunday, 15 January). The group from the Centro Astalli – home of the Italian Jesuit Refugee Service – have been invited to the Church of the Gesù, Piazza del Gesù in Rome at 3.30pm (2.30pm GMT), where they will be greeted by Father General Arturo Sosa SJ.

The gathering at the Gesù – the mother church of the Society of Jesus – will be an opportunity for refugees, volunteers and friends from the Centro Astalli to meet with the Superior General and to share their experiences with him. The public event, which is entitled ‘Refugee Youth: hope for a peaceful future’, will also be an occasion for them to reflect on Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, in which he focuses on the needs of migrant children.

New models of inclusion and integration

Fr Camillo Ripamonti SJ, the President of the Centro Astalli, will be introducing the meeting and greeting those gathered at the Gesù, many of whom will be young refugees from various nationalities who have come to Italy alone or with their families.Pope Francis is greeted by refugees at the Centro Astelli, Rome, 2013

"At a time when the world's refugees are increasing and with them a growing number of children who are forced to travel alone or with their parents, Europe is responding with fear and uncertainty that jeopardise the future of our democracies, as well as the lives of thousands of migrants,” he says.

Fr Ripamonti adds that it is more urgent than ever that our priorities are re-affirmed: to protect the most vulnerable, to defend human dignity in all circumstances, to respect people’s right to asylum and to welcome migrants. “It seems significant that this occasion is bringing together the Centro Astalli and the Superior General of the Jesuits, Father Arturo Sosa; his presence testifies to the attention that the Society of Jesus gives to the topic of migration. Refugee children are a challenge that challenges us; it encourages us to find new models of inclusion and integration.”

Fr Ripammonti believes our society is increasingly inward-looking and weary (stanche): he says that the support and protection of young refugees would be a demonstration of renewal and revitalisation of society.

At this afternoon’s meeting in Rome, young refugees from various countries will formulate a message of peace in their language of origin and Fr General Sosa will recite the Prayer for Refugees, specially written for this occasion.