Nobel award for missing Jesuit
The Italian Jesuit, Fr Paolo Dall'Oglio SJ, has been awarded the Nobel Missionary Prize by the Missionary Association, Cuore Amico Fraternità. The Association cited Fr Dall'Oglio's "great witness and strong commitment to interreligious dialogue" as the reason for deciding to make the award.
Fr Dall'Oglio (left) served for 30 years at the Deir Mar Musa, a sixth-century monastery 50 miles north of Damascus. He has been credited with the reconstruction of the Mar Musa complex and its reinvention as a centre of interfaith dialogue. He was exiled from Syria by the government of Bashar al-Assad in 2012 for meeting with members of the opposition and criticising the actions of the al-Assad regime during the Syrian civil war. Since being kidnapped by rebels on 29 July 2013, nothing has been heard of him. His family appealed for information about him in July 2014; and Farm Street Church has held several prayer vigils for his safe return, while at the same time raising funds for the victims of the conflict in Syria.
The Nobel Missionary Prize has been awarded every year since 1990. It highlights "the work of the Church in the field of human dignity through evangelisation among the poor". It is awarded to "exemplary missionary figures, who witness to Christ's love for the poor, with whom they share their poverty and work". In addition to Fr Dall'Oglio, the 2014 award on 18 October was also presented to Sr Bruna Charini, a missionary in Burundi, and Giuseppe Tonello, a lay missionary in Ecuador.
The Missionary Association was founded in 1980 by Don Mario Pasini, a priest and journalist, who died in 2002. As a result of a serious car accident, he worked for over 20 years from a wheelchair. The aim of the Association is "to help missionaries who stand in the front line, close to the poorest and the weakest, and who often find themselves in very difficult situations".