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Centro Comunitário S. Cirilo and JRS were the winners of the D. António Francisco award, given for the first time by the Associação Comercial do Porto, the Irmandade dos Clérigos and the Santa Casa da Misericórida do Porto. The award ceremony happened on the first anniversary of the death of the bishop at Palácio da Bolsa. Both institutions work with refugees and vulnerable people.

The D. António Francisco award receives its name from Bishop António Francisco dos Santos (February 21, 1948 – September 11, 2017), who passed away suddenly and left a great legacy of social justice and social awareness, as an example of love of neighbor and solidarity. The award was thought in line with Pope Francis’s ecclesiology of the poor.

The prize of seventy-five thousand euros is awarded to citizens known for their work in the promotion and advocacy for the dignity of the human person, the advocacy and promotion of human rights, the interreligious and ecumenical dialogue, and the promotion of peace.

Award received with joy

JRS will use the prize for their work in the Unidade Habitacional de Santo António -UHSA (public housing), Centro de Instalação Temporária for migrants in irregular situations held in custody. “It is with great joy and gratitude that we receive this award, which acknowledges the work so often done silently in the accompaniment of migrants and refugees, especially the most vulnerable. We feel also moved by the memory of Bishop António Francisco, an inspiration to keep us working in a bold, creative and steadfast way,” says André Costa Jorge, President of JRS Portugal.  Costa Jorge remarked, “Our work at UHSA since 2006 is unique in Portugal and in Europe, due to its specificity. We follow up migrants in irregular situation and kept in custody, the major part in a deep vulnerable and fragile situation. Our technical team has the required profile for the job and counts also with several volunteers working permanently. This award encourages us to keep our work seeking justice and defending human rights.”

Centro S. Cirilo also received the award with enthusiasm and gratitude: “We feel very grateful for this award, which confirms the work developed by the Center through the years. Besides the monetary prize, the acknowledgment and visibility brought by this award represent a meaningful contribution to better develop its mission onwards,” says Fr. Luis Ferreira do Amaral, SJ, Director of the Center. “We thank Associação Comercial do Porto, Irmandade dos Clérigos and Santa Casa da Misericórdia do Porto for this good initiative and we rejoice with the name chosen for the award -D. António Francisco,” concludes the Jesuit.

This Jesuit work in Porto seeks to enable people and families (both national and foreign), who might be passing through a fragile temporary situation. The goal is always the reintegration in the society. Since its opening in 2010, the Center helped more than 7500 people from 114 nationalities and achieved more than 400 work placements. “The key values promoted by this award –the defense and promotion of the human person, the interreligious dialogue, and the promotion of peace- are the same values Centro São Cirilo brings up and seeks in the pursuit of its mission,” says Fr. Luis Ferreira do Amaral, SJ.

Picture: Left to right (André Jorge – JRS Portugal Director; Fr. Luís Amaral, sj – São Cirilo President; Nuno Botelho - Associação Comercial do Porto President; Mauel Linda – Porto Bishop; António Tavares - Provedor da Misericórdia do Porto; Fr.. Américo Aguiar - Irmandade dos Clérigos.

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