RMG - "Jesus Good Shepherd makes us open our hearts and our homes": interview with Fr Antoine Farrugia

23 January 2019

(ANS - Rome) - In recent weeks, the Salesians of Malta, together with 45 other NGOs, urged European governments to act on behalf of migrants on board the ship Sea- Watch 3, then stuck between Malta and Sicily, emphasizing that in such situations there could only be one answer: people are more important. But the work of the Salesians in Malta in favor of migrants, and especially unaccompanied minors, has a long history, which began 25 years ago. To talk about it is Fr Antoine Farrugia, SDB, of the Vice Province of Malta.

How did the work of the Salesians of Malta in favor of young refugees start?

In 1994 a young man from Africa arrived in Malta and we welcomed him. However, he had entered the country illegally and for this he was arrested. We wondered what to do to protect him and came up with a truly creative solution. It was decided that the "Savio College", a prestigious Maltese school, would in this case act as a detention center, so that the young man could continue to be with the Salesians. He was, in other words, detained inside the Savio College. This allowed the young person to benefit from an experience of care and education within the Salesian community. We can say that's how the commitment of Salesians with unaccompanied minors and asylum seekers in Malta began.

What inspires and motivates you in your pastoral service to migrants and refugees?

For our activities in favor of refugees, our inspiration is Jesus Good Shepherd. It is what makes us open our hearts and our home. As Salesians, we are always ready to welcome the less fortunate young people: we make no difference if they are Maltese or if they arrive from other parts of the world. When they come to us, what matters is that for them, a process of integration into society begins as soon as possible.

What should the actions of national and European institutions facing this situation be?

In truth there is a good relationship with national institutions and with our government. We feel that all institutions, in these times, increasingly need a collaboration with the Church and other NGOs in order to improve their work. We will continue to always welcome the most vulnerable people. At the moment, we are hosting about 20 unaccompanied minors.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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