Sunday Times interviews College Rector


An excerpt reproduced from Timesofmalta.com - May 1st, 2011

Five years after seven vehicles belonging to the Jesuit community were torched after their support for irregular immigrants’ rights, St Aloysius’ College rector Fr Patrick Magro tells Ariadne Massa the Order still receives threats.

Just after midnight on March 13, 2006, Fr Magro received a phone call from a panicked watchman saying he thought the grass in the college grounds were burning.

“By the time I got to the school one of the cars had exploded and with the blast was catapulted higher than one of the palm trees,” he says, smiling at the irony of how different the scene that greeted him was from the one described on the phone.

It was a time when anti-immigration emotions were running high, fuelled by an influx of irregular immigrants and right-wingers, so the Jesuits, who ran the Jesuit Refugee Service and openly condemned racist sentiments, became a target.........

......“There are those who feel Jesuits are more prepared to stand up for immigrants than Maltese, which is not correct. Fighting for human beings’ rights does not come at the expense of Maltese identity, but because we believe there is a way we can all live together especially in the light of the global situation.

“We want the easy way out, but this is a global matter,” he says, while accepting that the island needs help on a political level to ensure Malta, the closest country to Libya, does not end up taking more than it can handle.

“As Jesuits we’re not in favour of bringing immigrants to Malta; isn’t it obvious that we have huge infrastructural problems and that we need help?” he says.

“Nobody is happy with the situation, but to have so many people fleeing their country in search of a better life is a global phenomenon and there are huge immigration problems out there that are much bigger than what we are facing here.

“An immigrant’s heart is a heart plagued with hurt.”........

...........Hearing the birds chirping peacefully from the trees on the college grounds the burnt carcasses of the cars seem eons away, but threats are something Jesuits across the world have learnt to live with as a consequence of standing up to social injustices.

This is not the first time Fr Magro has confronted threats or come face to face with the barrel of a rifle during his travels.

One day he was travelling with three other Jesuits along the border between Columbia and Venezuela when teenagers brandishing Kalashnikovs stopped them, dragged them out of the car and were about to pull the trigger........

.....as a Jesuit these experiences are an integral part of his vocation. He believes it is fundamental for his formation to be close to those who are suffering and facing injustices, and one of the reasons he chose to abandon his engineering career and girlfriend to become a Jesuit.

 

“What attracted me to the order is that we are encouraged to find God in everything.........

....“Schools these days have to serve as a teacher, father, mother, babysitter, psychologist... it’s a challenge.”

He focuses on making personal care for every student a priority, to ensure structures are in place to know every individual student and in turn give them better formation......... 

Read the Full Article here 

 

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