Migration was there, is still here and will still remain in the future. After seeing the increase in the challenges offered by the migration crisis and following 6 September 2015 Pope Francis’ appeal to welcome a family of refugees, an internal discernment process begun in the Maltese Augustinian Province on all this. Following various internal discussions and even within the Maltese Augustinian Justice and Peace Commission, it was decided to use the only available space in St Mark’s Priory in Rabat. The same space was before used as a store for outside feast decorations. The space was transformed and refurbished to accommodate and welcome a refugee family. The project was mostly financed internally and with help of other beneficiaries. An interesting aspect of this project is that the project is done in coordination with JRS Malta.
The refugee couple, from Eritrea, Coptic, were welcomed on 11 October 2016. Just the day before, while we as Augustinians were celebrating St Thomas of Villanova’s feast, the Saint of the Poor, we blessed the home to accommodate and welcome them. At the same time, the wife was given birth to her first son, Eyakiem. We opted that we will welcome them within St Mark’s Augustinian complex in Rabat instead of helping them far away in other places as this, within itself, is a statement of welcome that will leave its mark on our hearts and attitudes. This project is another way to dialogue and encounter them, to hear their fears, their hopes, their difficulties, and their joy. Surely, this will not solve the whole migration problem but it is an act of mercy and compassion, both in the Year of Mercy and also in the Bi-Centenary celebrations of the Maltese Augustinian Province.