Tributes to Fr Frans van der Lugt SJ
Tributes continue to be paid to Fr Frans van der Lugt SJ who was murdered on 7 April 2014 in Homs, Syria. Writing on Facebook, Youssef Habib said:
It is with great sorrow that I just received the news of the killing of my old Jesuit friend Fr Frans Vander Lugt today in Homs, Syria.
Abouna Frans (or preferably Frans ﻓﺮﺍﻧﺲ as he liked young Syrians to call him) was a pioneer of creative means of mutual understanding between Syrians.
He was a friend of the poorest and of the richest... of the weakest and of the most powerful. He was a psychoanalyst and an inventor of his own yoga meditation open air youth morning sessions.
He was the pioneer of the famous Massir, or series of long walks, in the Syrian mountains and forests, grouping Syrians and non-Syrians from all ages, religions and cultures. I had the chance to do such 10-day and 4-day massir walks many times with him.
Last year in Homs, he received in the Jesuit house 40 Muslim refugee families from surrounding areas, doing everything to let them feel safe and at home. Yet, he was not convinced that the (currently) said revolutionary movement was purely for the sake of freedom. He could see quite early that there were other issues involved. For him, every human person contained a treasure. He “believed” in the unlimited richness of the human person.
If he couldn’t find a way to communicate with someone he 9was) meeting... he could finally resort to inviting him/her to read the cup of coffee for them, and let the humanistic message pass through the (said) fengan el Kahwa or cup of coffee and break the ice!
After Geneva 2 (brought) hopes to bring help to the besieged refugees in Homs, many of my Syrian friends were congratulating each other on social media “finally, Frans is getting the help for his people”.
To end, I would like to share with you an expression that he adopted that he always used with youth at the end of his meeting with them, in a big gathering or on a one to one basis: “Ilal Amam” ﺇﻟﻰ ﺍﻷﻣﺎﻡ ! Move forward!
As a Dutch living in Syria for more than 40 years, speaking Syrian Arabic better that Syrians, knowing Syria better than Syrians, Abouna Frans always said: I live in Syria and will die in Syria.
Lord Alton, who will be taking part in a Service of Music and Meditation for Syria at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, London W1K 3AH on Tuesday 8 April 2014, said:
“He personified all the best qualities and ideals which the Society of Jesus stands for. He joins a long list of Jesuit martyrs who have sacrificed their lives truly believing that a man has no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends... The tragic news of Fr Van der Lugt's murder came just 24 hours before a Vigil for Syria in London's Jesuit church at Farm Street. It's a moment to honour a great man but also to raise our voices and prayers."
The event is free but there will be a collection for Aid to the Church in Need’s work in aid of children and families who have fled their homes as a result of the conflict in Syria. For more information visit: acnuk.org or telephone: 020 8642 8668