13 July 2017
|Fr Tvrtko Barun, SJ, smiles in this portrait photo taken by Darrin Zammit Lupi for JRS Europe. (JRS Europe)|
|"Our work is based on the values of the Gospel. I think being open to others and to the different is a challenge for all people regardless of their faith. Christ's words can only help us to make it easier to choose that openness."|
Zagreb, 13 July 2017 - The head of the Jesuit Refugee Service in South-East Europe, Tvrtko Barun SJ, is one of the winners of this year's European Citizen's Prize.
Since 2008, the European Parliament has been granting this prestigious prize which recognises individuals or groups that have distinguished themselves by promoting European common values. The candidates show an engagement in facilitating the understanding between citizens of Member States or promoting transnational cooperation. The Central Celebration for Laureates will be held in Brussels on Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Barun won the prize for his efforts and devotion to the refugee cause. He is a 33-year old priest, who after graduating from philosophy at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Society of Jesus in Zagreb, took Theology at the Centre Sèvres - Facultés jésuites de Paris where he mastered spirituality. Moreover, in addition to leading JRS in South East Europe, he is the chaplain of the International Catholic Community of Zagreb.
Reflecting on the humanitarian character of the Jesuit congregation, Barun emphasizes the following: "Our work is based on the values of the Gospel. I think being open to others and to the different is a challenge for all people regardless of their faith. Christ's words can only help us to make it easier to choose that openness."
He also points out that refugees need to be helped because they live in a struggle for justice, and faith in Jesus Christ is a faith that requires justice. Through his work, Barun teaches others how love for the ones in need is crucial to the peace and progress of society. He believes that openness to others can be challenging for people, but accepting someone that is different can only be for the greater good. Accepting the unknown and recognizing the good in others, allows us to enrich ourselves with their diversity. It will allow us to seek and find God's person in the people in need.
Dubravka Šuica, Member of the European Parliament for Croatia, expressed her satisfaction with the outcome of the prize: "I am pleased that the European Citizen's Prize recognized the work and values that JRS advocates and conveys. Solidarity and respect for human dignity are values on which modern Europe is based."