Migra Studium: Keeping the door open

Fr. Arturo Sosa’s visit to Barcelona gave us the opportunity to get to know an important Jesuit work in that city, Migra Studium, which serves refugees and migrants in precarious situations. Its coordinator, Fr. Pau Vidal, talks to us today about this work, one of the many examples of the Society’s commitment to refugees around the world. Tomorrow, in a second article, we will present the testimonies of people who work with Migra Studium or who benefit from its services.

By Pau Vidal Sas, SJ, Coordinator of Migra Studium’s Hospitalaris project

Eighteen years ago the Jesuits in Barcelona (Spain) decided to open a social centre for refugees and migrants. For that purpose they renovated a building in the centre of the city that had previously been a traditional Jesuit residence. Since then, the mission of the Migra Studium Foundation (which forms part of the Jesuit Migrant Service) has been to defend, accompany and serve the many people who, after months or years of migrating, arrive in Barcelona with the hope of building a better future. On arriving in Spain, the most vulnerable migrants encounter numberless difficulties because of the very restrictive immigration laws and the often racist attitudes they encounter in a society marked by hostility towards foreigners. In this context, the Jesuits offer them an open door.

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Every year thousands of people cross through the doors of Migra Studium to take lessons in Spanish and to sign up for courses in electricity, cooking, and plumbing. At Migra Studium they can also receive legal advice, start their regularisation process, and participate in recreational and cultural activities. As soon as they cross through the doors, they are accompanied and assisted so that they can exercise their rights.

In 2017, Migra Studium launched Hospitalaris, a project that provides lodging for refugees and migrants in private homes. Since then, more than 70 migrants have been able to share in the day-to-day life of these homes, where they are able to learn both Spanish and Catalan, expand their network of relationships, and share their hosts’ experiences and knowledge on a daily basis.

People are always able to grow and become more human when they are welcoming of others, especially those they may perceive as strangers. In the Christian tradition we remember how Abraham, as a nomad in the desert, unknowingly welcomed God himself as guest.

Saint Peter Claver, who was born in the Catalan village of Verdú, devoted himself body and soul for decades to tenderly caring for the enslaved Africans who arrived on the American continent. Years before, when he was a young student, Claver had witnessed the slave ships and the infamous human trafficking in this very city of Barcelona. Even then he felt called to follow Jesus by taking the side of the victims.

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Those of us on the Migra Studium team are ever mindful of Claver’s example. To the very end of his life, he showed perseverance, tenacity and dedication in his service to the oppressed Africans. He is a perpetual reminder of how and why we must remain committed today to those who suffer most at the hands of a global capitalist system that excludes and kills. We work every day to alleviate suffering, to denounce situations of injustice, and to create new horizons for the migrants. We try to change the structures that condemn so many to poverty and exclusion, forcing them to undertake harrowing migratory journeys and then, when they finally arrive in Spain, to live in an irregular administrative situation.

We feel we are part of a wide network of persons and groups who have, down through the centuries, followed in the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth in defending the most vulnerable: Pedro Arrupe, Peter Claver, Ignatius Loyola and so many others who have devoted their lives completely to making the world more human and more divine, a world of open doors.

Migra Studium

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles public relations.

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