The joy of hospitality: keeping hope alive

02 February 2023|JRS Europe

On Saturday 28 January, the 3rd Diocesan Meeting on Migration took place with the motto “Hospitality versus Hostility”. More than 100 people representing different institutions, parishes, and groups took part in this event organised by the Vicariate for the Social Pastoral of the Archdiocese of Seville.

JRS Europe Director, Alberto Ares, SJ, gave the keynote speech entitled “Keeping Hope Alive”. It was an opportunity to share how hospitality is one of the basic pillars of the Church’s mission to migrants and refugees. He helped to set out the framework of hospitality and integration in the European reality, in terms of opportunities and challenges. He then shared the inspiring and operational principles of hospitality.

He also introduced various models of hospitality communities in the European reality, some of them within the framework of the JRS network in Europe, in which hospitality plays a fundamental role. SJM Spain, with its network of Hospitality Communities, as part of the network of JRS in Europe, is a good example in which different models of hospitality are embodied.

In his presentation, Alberto reinforced the idea of working together on models of hospitality, between host communities, specialised social organizations, and local public institutions. He gave an overview of the different models according to the reception needs, the conditions in which reception takes place, and the time frame.

Perhaps one of the most interesting points for the audience was learning about the best practices of hospitality in recent years, as well as the challenges that lie ahead. What was undoubtedly evident at the conference was that Alberto lives the reality of hospitality as one of the themes that is deeply rooted in the work of JRS and in his personal experience of living in communities of hospitality.

The second part of the meeting gave way to three round tables of experiences in which different experiences of hospitality were shared. On the one hand, from the Community of Hospitality “Casa Mambré” in Seville, the Migration Secretariat of the Diocese of Cadiz-Ceuta and the Cardijn Association, and finally, the Mary Ward Centre Project in Seville.

This was followed by a wide-ranging debate on the general framework of reception and hospitality, as well as on the different models presented.

This meeting was coordinated by Sálvador Diánez, vicar for the Social Pastoral of the Archdiocese, and Caritas Seville and the ‘Migrant Brother You Are Not Alone’ Project also participated in the organisation. The encounter was held at the Colegio Bienaventurada Virgen María, Irlandesas-Mary Ward.

Throughout Friday, the Circles of Silence also took place, in this case denouncing the reality of human trafficking. The Circles of Silence are a peaceful gathering, in silence and in a public space, to internalise and challenge consciences about the reality experienced by migrants and refugees. The Circles of Silence was born in France in 2007, but has already spread to several cities around the world, especially in Europe.

Alberto Ares also had the opportunity to visit and meet with the Claver Association team, a member of SJM Spain, and part of the JRS network in Europe. The great work of the Claver Association takes shape not only in Seville, but in several provinces of southern Spain. Its main priorities are hospitality, migrant women and domestic work, citizenship and participation, as well as accompaniment in detention centres (CIE).