30th Annual Path To Peace Foundation Gala Dinner Honors UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi
On Wednesday, May 17, the Path to Peace Foundation celebrated its 30th annual Gala at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan and awarded its Path to Peace Award to Mr. Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See Mission to the UN and President of the Path to Peace Foundation, welcomed 400 guests to the Gala.
Archbishop Caccia began his remarks by highlighting the shared commitment between the Holy See and the UN Refugee Agency to bring relief to the suffering and desperation of millions of refugees, displaced persons, asylum seekers, and stateless people throughout the world. Mr. Grandi has met with the Holy Father Pope Francis on several occasions, he noted, most recently in January of this year. Archbishop Caccia described Mr. Grandi’s life of service toward advancing the cause of refugees through working with various NGOs and entities within the United Nations. For Mr. Grandi, he said, “working with refugees is not a job but a vocation and a mission.”
This year also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris, Archbishop Caccia said. In the encyclical, which addresses the threat of nuclear war, Pope St. John XXIII writes of refugees that “it [is] impossible for us to view without bitter anguish of spirit the plight of those who...have been exiled from their homelands.”
Mr. Grandi donated his award honorarium to the Jesuit Refugee Service, an international Catholic organization that serves and advocates for refugees and other forcibly displaced persons.
“Nobody makes as difficult a choice as refugees. The choice to leave behind everything that you have, that you know and that you love – that is the most difficult choice that any human being can make. Family, friends, home, work – to plunge into the unknown. And they have to do it to save their lives, the lives of their families. They have to do it to have freedom. To have hope in the future,” Grandi said. For this reason, Grandi said, he received the award "in the name of refugees and displaced people."
Italian-American chef and restaurateur Ms. Lidia Bastianich, a refugee herself from Istria after the Second World War, served as the Master of Ceremonies. The Gala was chaired by Mr. Kenneth Craig. His Eminence Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J., Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, gave the opening invocation. Mr. Moustafa Aldouri, a case manager for Catholic Charities of South Jersey and a refugee from Iraq, also shared his story. Aldouri was kidnapped in 2003 in Iraq. His family fled to Syria and eventually, through assistance from the United Nations, moved to New Jersey, where Catholic Charities helped his family find resettlement and work.
Mr. Francesco Teruggi, a Negotiator for the Holy See Mission, drew upon his experience as a staff member and a previous intern for the Mission in 2019, as he discussed the ways the Mission brings the light of the Gospels to the inner workings of the UN. His Excellency Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Archbishop for the U.S. Military Services, gave the closing Benediction.
The Mission collaborated with Refugee Artisan Initiative to purchase handmade tea towels as the table gift to each participant. This nonprofit organization, based in Seattle, Washington, partners with refugee and immigrant women to foster an inclusive, prosperous transition to the U.S. through artisan skills training and micro business development.
The funds raised through the Path to Peace Gala enable the Path to Peace Foundation to help the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See maintain a dynamic presence at the UN and to bring greater awareness of the teachings of the Holy Father on important international questions.
The Foundation also focuses on disseminating information and documentation on statements and initiatives of the Holy Father, the Holy See, and Catholic organizations directed toward building a world of justice, charity, and peace.
Photo by Mr. Joe Vericker