A Jesuit priest and former director of the Jesuit Refugee Services, Fr Pierre Grech Marguerat, died on Friday after a long illness. He was 62 years old.

He had just returned to the Jesuit community house he was staying at in Pisa, Italy, after a long hospital stay. 

The priest is perhaps best known for his outreach programmes in aid of refugees during the height of the migration crisis in the 2000s. 

From 1996 to 2007, he served as the director of the Jesuit Refugee Services office in Malta, spearheading policies and guidelines to aid migrants arriving in Malta.

With tensions high, he was one of the victims of a series of arson attacks that also targeted JRS lawyer Katrine Camilleri and journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. 

Diagnosed with diabetes in his youth, Grech Margeurat was a renal patient who received a kidney from his sister Maureen Cole in 2006, spending time advocating for organ donation cards before their introduction in Malta. 

Since 2012, he has also served as the assistant to the Novice Master at the Jesuit Novitiate in Genoa and carried out pastoral work as part of the Society of Jesus in Pisa. 

In 2007 Grech Marguerat formed part of the back up team of the Life Cycle challenge, a yearly fundraiser that collects donations in aid of renal patients. 

Tributes poured in as news of his death spread on Friday. 

“We will always remember Fr Pierre as a wonderful man with so many gifts,” JRS Malta said in a Facebook post.

“A natural communicator, Fr Pierre shared with others his gifts of a deep faith, a heart for others, a life-giving spirit, and a passion for justice. All this with his great sense of humour... Fr Pierre was truly one of a kind in so many ways. We will never forget him, and we will be forever grateful for his friendship and unwavering support.”

The Maltese Diabetes Association described him as a "good friend" and supporter. 

"May he rest in peace," they said. 

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