A four-day visit to Athens was carried out by a delegation of diocesan Italian Caritas twinned with Caritas Athens and with parochial Caritas of the Holy Archdiocese of Athens Catholics.
The representatives of Caritas Andria Don Domenico Francavilla, Caritas Reggio Calabria-Bova Don Antonino Pangallo, Don Nino Russo, Alfonso Canale and Mariangela Ambrogio, Caritas di Udine Mr Paolo Zenarolla & Mr Stefano Comand, Caritas di Iglesias Mr Aldo Maringio & Ms. Emanuela Frau, Caritas di Cosenza-Bisignano Ms. Rosalba Rosa and Caritas Italiana Mr Danilo Feliciangeli and Ms. Silvia Compagno originally attended the ERT Choir Concert for the 40 years of offering and solidarity of Caritas Athens, on Monday, October 8th, at the hall of “Parnassos” Literary Society.
The following morning, they attended the Holy Mass by the Archbishop of Athens Catholics, and then they attended a meeting with the members of the Administration Board of Caritas Athens, the President, his Eminence Archbishop f. Sevastianos Rossolatos, the Vice President & Director, f. Ioannis Patsis, Ms. Elizabeth Ioustinianou-Merritt, Ms. Nicoletta Delatola, Ms. Helen Carabott, Mr. Stanislaos Stouraitis and Mr. Marinos Roussos, the members of the Management Committee of the Refugee Sector, Ms. Iliana Raouzaiou, Ms. Georgia Fonsou, Ms. Kalliopi Papadopoulou and Mr. Joe Fegali, the Operations Director Mr. Filippos Salimpas, the priest of St. Lucas, former Vice-President & Director of Caritas Athens, f. Andreas Voutsinos and the priest of St. Theresia, f. Alekos Psaltis, as well as representatives of all twinned parishes.
At the meeting, after mutual introductions, the situation and the problems faced by the parochial organizations of the capital, in view of the economic and refugee crisis of recent years, were discussed extensively, as well as views on the continuation of cooperation on a new basis, a new starting point, as Caritas Italiana spokesman, Mr. Danilo Feliciangeli, stressed.
A very important suggestion was made by the President of Caritas Athens, who spoke about encouraging both the youth and the Catholic immigrants, numbering three times the residents, to take initiatives within the local organizations and to make them feel as living members of the community!
At lunchtime, lunch was offered in honor of the Italian visitors at the Refugee Center Dining Room, at 52, Kapodistriou str., followed by the presentation of the activities of this Sector of Caritas Athens by Vice-President & Director, f. Ioannis Patsis and the Operations Director Mr. Filippos Salimpas. This was followed by a debate on how this project can be funded in the near future, as the available resources and potential donors have been dramatically reduced. The willingness of members of the Italian delegation to help with their experience was expressed.
The day was completed with a dinner of delegates and members of the Administration Board in a restaurant at Monastiraki, overlooking the Acropolis.
On Wednesday, October 10th, the program included a visit to the parish of the Holy Apostles in Voula and to the local Caritas, which is active, carrying out great work with the help of its 60 volunteers.
The Italian delegates, accompanied by Vice-President & Director, f. Ioannis Patsis, were impressed by the organization’s activities, including a weekly meal on that day, serving the needs of about hundred people, Greeks and foreigners, as well as the support for Greek unemployed, low pensioners and uninsured middle-aged people, in the form of food, clothing and necessities, as well as the repatriation of foreign parishioners!
This was followed by a visit to the Help Center of Caritas Athens, at 8, Emmanouil Benaki str., where the Center’s officer, Ms. Martha Koutsogiannouli, Social Worker, presented the programs, their successes to date and the planning for the following months.
After lunch in Kapodistriou’s dining room, a discussion was held on the future of the Help Center, which is funded by Caritas Italiana and other Italian diocesan Caritas. The Vice- President & Director, f. Ioannis Patsis, the Operations Director, Mr. Filippos Salimpas, the Head of the Social Services, Ms. Aglaia Konstantakopoulou and the Help Center officer, Ms Martha Koutsogiannouli took part in the discussion.
On Thursday, October 11th, the members of the Italian delegation visited the facilities of the “Pammakaristos” Children’s Foundation located at 1, Marathonos Avenue, Nea Makri, where the Fire Victims Relief Center is hosted and operates for the last three months, aiming at providing psychosocial support, care and creative activities for children, preparation and distribution of daily meals (150 portions), in co-operation with the coordination centers of the Municipalities of Marathon-Nea Makri and Rafina-Pikermi.
The visitors spoke with staff and volunteers who offer their services for the day-to-day care of the fire victims after the devastating fire of last July and learned of the immediate actions, which were taken by the three organizations of the Catholic Church in Greece from the first moment of the tragedy, with the support of workers and a large number of volunteers, to relieve the pain of the inhabitants who have experienced nightmarish moments.
The work of Caritas Athens and the twinned parochial Caritas impressed the Italian delegates, who noted the support and solidarity of the Catholic Church in Athens to the suffering fellow human beings and the activities developed by the members of the community as an example to be imitated for humane actions!