The Congregations of St. Joseph together with the other New York based Religious UN NGOs composed of the Passionists International, the Augustinians International, and the Vincentians, organized an international conference in Rome from February 22-24, 2016 titled “Religious and Migration in the 21st Century: Perspectives, Response and Challenges”.

The aim of the meeting was to understand more fully the phenomenon of migration and its repercussions in today’s world, especially in the context of the current European situation. It also considered the identification of more effective and shared forms of solidarity. Approximately 100 men and women religious, as well as laypersons and experts attended this important meeting. There were ten members from the Congregations of St. Joseph representing six autonomous St. Joseph families of Europe. Justine Gitanjali Senapati,CSJ was part of the planning committee and represented both the Canadian and US Federations at this important event.   A strong appeal was launched for intensified network-building among congregations, associations and other organizations in to assist refugees from their countries of origin, in transit and their destination countries. This network of resources would represent one of the most efficient ways of using energy, skills and resources, to give greater impetus to the already extraordinary work that these entities carry out.Justine Senapti, UNNGO

In Italy alone, some 23 million people (almost a quarter of the refugees present in the country) are received by parishes, religious communities, monasteries and sanctuaries. The participants expressed major concerns regarding the large number of often unaccompanied minors involved in migratory flows, as well as the many young women, especially from Nigeria (more than 4,000 in 2015) who risk falling into the trap of exploitation and prostitution.

Fr. Emela Xris Obiezu, representative of Augustinians International before the United Nations, emphasized that “In this complex world, and faced with the challenge of migration, it is increasingly necessary to think globally and act locally, also in terms of lobbying and advocacy, to take the voice of the victims and those who work alongside them to every level of attention, from local administrations to the United Nations, so as to influence working decisions, always placing at the center of attention the person and respect for his or her freedom and dignity.”