Prayer vigil for African migrants lost at sea

Caritas and other NGOs and church bodies have organised a prayer vigil in Rome to remember the migrants who have died trying to reach Europe. Other vigils are being held in Spain and Belgium. Don Andrea la Regina from Caritas Italiana was at last night’s gathering.

They say that over 1,800 people drowned at sea while trying to reach Europe in the first five months of this year. That’s what they say, but in reality we can’t know the true figure as many people are clandestine and their bodies aren’t always found. Sometimes these people are whole families: mothers and fathers and their children.

Last night’s vigil in the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere was called “To die of hope”. The hope of many is to find a better life. They leave war-torn countries and places of hunger to take a chance on life in Europe.

Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglió from the President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People presided over the vigil. He emphasised how important it is that the whole of Europe take responsibility for the migrants and make sure they are made welcome and are helped when needed.

We prayed for all those who had been lost. There were the families of those who had drowned present in the church to remember them. There were also representatives from other denominations. We were united all together in one Christian faith.

With the unrest in North Africa, more and more people are taking a chance on migration. Diocesan Caritas down in Sicily are on hand to ensure migrants are welcomed to our shores. We give them emergency help – food, clothes, medical help and money if needed. But we also help them solve the legal issues around migrating or seeking asylum.

That’s what we do, but as Archbishop Veglió said, we all need to take on the responsibility to help these migrants, both during their journeys and once they’ve reached their destinations .


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