Fr. Jim Collins, S.J. and John Carroll University students read from Imago Dei: Journeys of Courage, Hope & Home. (Cara Pavlak — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA)
(Washington, D.C.) May 30, 2012 — A few weeks ago, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA Development Director Clare Bonsignore and I were welcomed to John Carroll University for the university debut of Imago Dei: Journeys of Courage, Hope & Home. We also cosponsored discussion of Colombia’s displacement crisis with our friends at the Ignatian Solidarity Network.
The dramatic reading was prepared with the gracious assistance of John Scarano, John Carroll's director of Campus Ministry, who enlisted a company of John Carroll staff and students to read the script of Imago Dei: Journeys of Courage, Hope & Home. This company included Kate Pifer, Elizabeth Burton Jones, Jacqueline Wyman, Jurell Sison, Sean Cahill, Becca Russo, and Fr. Jim Collins, S.J.
That Wednesday evening, Clare and I got to know some John Carroll students over dinner in the dining hall, then we headed up to the serene St. Francis Chapel to set up for the evening’s event. As the company rehearsed, I was struck by their professionalism; it seemed as though they’d been rehearsing for a long time. After the performance, reader Sean Cahill told me that the rehearsal before the show had been their only rehearsal. I was happy to hear that, because that’s one of the reasons we offer the dramatic reading script to communities; we wanted to provide an easy, accessible way to portray refugee issues in any community, regardless of theater experience or technological capacity.
No matter how many times I view this play or clips of it, it humbles me with its portrayal of real refugee issues and its ability to strike an emotional chord within me. The company of John Carroll truly did this play justice with their reading for this university debut Imago Dei: Journeys of Courage, Hope & Home.
They brought this play to life, especially the idea of hope in the refugee experience. One of the most moving parts of the night, which I encourage you to watch in our clip, was at the end during a segment entitled “My Name is Grace.” Another standout moment, which you can also view here, is the earlier moment in the play when various U.S. “talking heads” from the media discuss the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Until I first viewed this play, I had never once taken a moment to consider the idea that victims of Katrina, fellow Americans, might be considered refugees.
I hope that you will take a few minutes to watch these poignant clips from Imago Dei: Journeys of Courage, Hope & Home, and consider hosting an Imago Dei event in your community. For more information about the play and how you can host an event, please click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
by Cara Pavlak
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA Outreach Coordinator