It is 9.00 in the morning and I have just arrived in Lampedusa. Fr Marcus Walker, the Associate Director, and I are making this journey to Lampedusa today to increase our awareness of the refugee crisis that is affecting all of Europe and much of the world today.
The island of Lampedusa is one of the most significant and most overwhelmed refugee arrival points, as highlighted by Pope Francis' visit to the island two years ago. On that occasion the Pope was gifted a pastoral staff in the shape of a cross made from the wood of a refugee boat which had crossed the Mediterranean.
Because of the Anglican Centre's interest in modern slavery and human trafficking over the last three years, two friends of the Centre arranged for us to receive a specially made wooden Lampedusa Cross, to be placed in our chapel as a sign of the plight of refugees. Today Fr Marcus and I meet the artist, Franco Tuccio, who made the cross and will listen to his description of this gift. The local parish priest on the island, Don Mimmo, is hosting our visit because of the links we have with the Sant' Egidio community in Rome, who work with refugees on the island. We will be meeting with people who minister to the refugee camps as well as Luca Maria Negri (President of the Federazione Chiese Evangeliche Italiane) and Germano Garatto (coordinator of Foundation Migrantes for the Italian Bishop Conference).
We come to the island very aware of the hugely significant refugee ministry of Anglicans in this part of the world. Here are some examples of how churches around Europe have been responding:
The Anglican Centre in Rome is a UK
Charity with a world-wide mission.
The Director: Archbishop Ntahoturi
Deputy Director: Revd Dr Justin Lewis-Anthony
The Anglican Centre in Rome,
Palazzo Doria Pamphilj,
Piazza del Collegio Romano 2,
00186 Roma, Italy.
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