The annual Euro Assembly held in Fátima, this time among the European regional / provincial leaders and the formators, was actually meant to deal with the topic “ongoing formation and self-knowledge: a joy-filled pilgrimage towards inner freedom”. However, given the signs of time and thanks to the very special visit of Bishop Santiago Agrelo from Tanger / Morocco, another issue came into focus as well: the situation of the refugees in Morocco.
It seems as if it was God’s will that Sr. Maria José Rebelo (regional leader of Spain/Portugal and thus host of the assembly) got to know about Don Santiago Agrelo, bishop of Tanger in Morcco, earlier in May this year. She was so touched by what she read about him in the internet that she sat down to write an email and invite him for the assembly on the very same day. Contrary to her expectation, he replied on the next day and accepted the invitation! Since he had planned to give a retreat at the Spanish-Portuguese boarder on the day after the assembly, he could arrange to arrive one day earlier and meet our sisters. Therefore, the Euro-Council changed the schedule of the second day and dedicated it completely to the situation of the refugees – an issue for which Bishop Santiago is very much on fire.
Thanks to modern technology it was possible for our new community in Athens to attend the very impressive session via skype as well. Since they dedicate themselves completely to the service of refugees, they were delighted to listen to the bishop’s sharing.
The following are some of the main points he mentioned:
- he shared some very touching stories of refugees
- he emphasized that the world of the poor shapes us and opens us up to the reality
- he noticed that many Christians are not aware of the fact that what is happening at the borders of Europe is against their belief and value system
- he reminded us that God has made himself poor in Christ; thus it is our mission as Church to take the side of the poor
- he prophesied, if the Church is not a Church of the poor, there is no future for the Church
- he made us aware that we live between “among you it shall not be like that” and “serve one another as I have served you”
- he named it our duty as religious and priests to welcome refugees and give them our support
Don Santiago even prolonged his visit to celebrate the Eucharist with us in the afternoon. It was indeed a very enriching visit for all of us.
Sr. Stefanie Hall SSpS – Germany