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(Washington, D.C.) January 7, 2015 — The Jesuit Refugee Service/USA Outreach Program seeks to inspire the next generation of advocates by empowering students at high schools and colleges across the country to make their voices heard. To accomplish this, we aim to spread awareness and to mobilize energized groups around education, advocacy, volunteering, and fundraising efforts. 

JRS/USA Outreach efforts took place before enthusiastic audiences in California, Maryland and New York in early December.

Last month Jesuit Refugee Service/USA's National Director Armando Borja and Mission & Identity Coordinator Fr. Kevin White S.J. visited the University of San Francisco, the new Cristo Rey School in San Jose, Calif., and Most Holy Trinity Parish in San Jose. Later, Fr. White also visited the Jesuit novitiate in Syracuse, N.Y.

Outreach Coordinator Mary Doan visited Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland.

Each quarter students from Bishop McNamara who take Theology 12 are required to attend an event outside of class that is relevant to the curriculum. The class serves as an introduction to both Christian morality and Catholic Social Teaching. While various events around the archdiocese are advertised for students to attend, some students have trouble making it to external events and so a few are arranged as afterschool activities at Bishop McNamara.

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA provided one of the three presentations offered this quarter at Bishop McNamara. The presentation covered a brief introduction to social justice in the context of refugees and internally displaced people. Afterwards, student leaders from the school's Service Club expressed interest in organizing a letter writing campaign to refugees, and hosting a fundraiser.

At the University of San Francisco (USF), 15 faculty members and administrators gathered during their last week of classes of the semester to hear about the work of JRS/USA, a sure indication of USF zeal for justice and interest in service to refugees and internally displaced people.

Mr. Borja and Fr. White each presented the work of JRS both in the U.S. and internationally to the gathered USF Faculty. As all Jesuit works embrace and incorporate in their own unique mission statements work for justice, conversation followed the presentation about the possibility of further collaboration in this important work.

Later that same day, JRS/USA presented our work and engaged in conversation with the Mission & Identity Council of USF, this time joined by JRS/USA Assistant Director for Development Ms. Pat McDermott. Topics discussed included possible volunteer and service opportunities as well as leadership training curriculum.

JRS/USA Outreach moved next to San Jose, Calif. with a two-day visit to the new Cristo Rey School there. Ninth grade teacher Ms. Stephanie Blumenson welcomed Mr. Borja and Fr. White into her Religious Education classes on both Thursday and Friday to ensure that all students who operate on a work-study schedule had the opportunity to hear about JRS/USA.

Students were enthusiastic and asked excellent questions about the students and life in Africa that Fr. White's presentation highlighted. Eighty students in all welcomed JRS/USA Outreach to their new school.

Next on the Outreach schedule was a visit to Most Holy Trinity Parish in San Jose. Here, Fr. White offered a Parish Outreach presentation in the parish gymnasium to the 120 confirmation candidates and their senior leaders on Sunday evening. This gathering was then followed by Sunday evening Mass for more than 600 in the Most Holy Trinity Parish Church. This Mass was promised to be a “high energy Mass” by the welcoming pastor Fr. Bob Fambrini, S.J., and his prediction proved true. This evening Mass is typically the Mass where the youth of the parish from many different ethnic backgrounds gather for worship and praise. The music is contemporary and boisterous, filled with spirit and enthusiasm.

Last on this Outreach road trip was a visit to the Jesuit novitiate in Syracuse, where 10 young men are discerning their call from the Lord to become Jesuit priests and brothers. Fr. White shared the work of JRS with these young men in formation highlighting the importance of JRS to the history of the contemporary Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and the opportunity for ministry in the years ahead for those who wish to accompany, serve and advocate for refugees. 

If your school or parish would like JRS/USA Outreach to visit your school or parish, please contact our Outreach Coordinator, Ms. Mary Doan.

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is an international Catholic non-governmental organization whose mission is to accompany, serve and advocate for the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. 

To accompany means to be a companion. We are companions of Jesus, so we wish to be companions of those with whom he preferred to be associated, the poor and the outcast. JRS services are made available to refugees and displaced persons regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs. JRS advocates for just and generous policies and programs for the benefit of victims of forced displacement, so that those made vulnerable by exile can receive support and protection and durable solution to their plight can be achieved. 

JRS/USA witnesses to God’s presence in vulnerable and often forgotten people driven from their homes by conflict, natural disaster, economic injustice, or violation of their human rights.  

As one of the ten geographic regions of Jesuit Refugee Service, JRS/USA serves as the major refugee outreach arm of U.S. Jesuits and their institutional ministries, mobilizing their response to refugee situations in the U.S. and abroad. Through our advocacy and fund raising efforts, JRS/USA provides support for the work of JRS throughout the world.  

JRS/USA gives help, hope, ear and voice to vulnerable people on the move by being present to and bearing witness to their plight; by relieving their human suffering and restoring hope; by addressing the root causes of their displacement and improving international responses to refugee situations. 

In addition, JRS/USA inspires the Ignatian family and others to respond together to the needs of refugees and displaced persons worldwide and forges strong partnerships with like-minded institutions and agencies devoted to the cause of refugees and displaced persons.

JRS works in more than 50 countries worldwide to meet the educational, health, social and other needs of approximately 950,000 refugees and other forcibly displaced persons, more than half of whom are women. JRS services are available to refugees and displaced persons regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs.

Approximately 280,000 children, young people and adults receive primary, secondary, tertiary and vocational education services each year. JRS places the highest priority on ensuring a better future for refugees by investing heavily in education and training. Further, JRS undertakes advocacy to ensure all displaced children be provided with access to quality education. JRS services are provided to refugees regardless of race, ethnic origin or religious beliefs.

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. 

Countries Related to this Region
Canada, United States of America