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Praying with Refugees
Confronted by the conflict, slaughter, and seemingly endless anguish in so many other places in our world, we wonder how God can allow such things to happen. The Old Testament describes how the people of Israel suffered war, violence, famine, persecution, and exile, and how they tried to find the presence of the loving God of the covenant in all those harsh realities.

This section of the website offers readers an opportunity to reflect and pray on the good and evil which happens. As we meet and work with refugees who have confronted evil and suffering, it is important to remind them and ourselves as well to keep in touch with God, the source of all good and love. This is the only way to withstand evil.
Praying with refugees in India
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
(Delhi) July 2014 — "I see hope shining brightly before me. I see my children walking freely without fear. I have forgotten my arduous journey. It was like crossing the Red Sea in the Old Testament. It took me some time to forgive the people who destroyed the lives of many families, including mine.... Now it's all over and I see a lot of hope ahead of us,” said Matink, a Burmese Chin refugee.
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Praying with Refugees in Thailand
Sunday, June 08, 2014
(Bangkok) June 8, 2014 — Bright light was filtering through the rainbow paned glass in the Jesuit chapel as the Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific staff from the Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Thailand all gathered around Amber, a small baby in the arms of her parents, Sheeba and Dawood, from Pakistan.
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Praying with Refugees in the Middle East: the resilience of mothers
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Damascus, 16 May 2014 – For years mothers in Syria have suffered; many have been displaced, losing their homes, their husbands, and for some, their children. Mothers often have to decide whether to leave other children behind in order to take a wounded child to gain access medical assistance, or to safety across a border.
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Praying with Refugees: Accompanying people in detention
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
(Washington, D.C.) April 1, 2014 — In the United States and many other countries, Jesuit Refugee Service actively works to assist refugees and asylum seekers in detention. The use of detention to discourage, control and punish asylum seekers has increased worldwide during the past decade.
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Praying with Refugees in Southern Africa: redefining our mission in life
Saturday, March 01, 2014
Johannesburg, 1 March 2014 – One morning I received a visitor to our office, a young woman refugee whom I shall call Ayan*.
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Praying with refugees in South Sudan: a call for peace
Saturday, February 01, 2014
Tombura-Yambio, 1 February 2014 — The people of South Sudan have experienced far more than their share of suffering. Historians tell us that more than 4.5 million people died in our wars of independence, with similar numbers unaccounted for in past decades. Our nation needs to embrace the past to avoid repeating the mistakes that caused death, suffering and humiliation on a massive scale. I, therefore, appeal strongly for peace in South Sudan, an appeal which comes from deep within me.
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Prayer for South Sudan
Monday, January 06, 2014
(Washington, D.C.) January 7, 2014 — Jesuit Father Kevin White invites all to pray this prayer for South Sudan at this difficult moment. Part of the preparations for South Sudan’s founding and Independence Day in 2011, the prayer's plea for grace and call for peace and unity has an urgent relevance today.
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Praying with Refugees in Nairobi: encouraging reconciliation through spiritual seminars
Wednesday, January 01, 2014
Nairobi, 1 January 2014 – Refugees pass through painful experiences that leave them emotionally wounded while in a foreign country. They carry the burden of those who have caused or still cause them this pain. Sometimes they become disconnected from themselves, others and even from God. Consequently, some develop complications of different illnesses and even nightmares.
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Praying with refugees in Congo: unexpected gifts of Advent
Sunday, December 01, 2013
Bujumbura, 1 December 2013 – "The hand that receives is the same hand that gives", says one African proverb demonstrating the importance of recognising that there will always be others in need, but by helping them you help yourself.
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Praying with refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo: reconciliation brings hope
Monday, November 04, 2013
(Bujumbura, Burundi) November 4, 2013 — Reconciliation requires sacrifice. It means stepping out of your comfort zone, confronting your prejudices, and admitting your own transgressions. Only then can we recognize the dignity of others.
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Praying with Refugees in Syria: persecuted, but not abandoned
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Homs, 1 October 2013 – Sunday is normally characterised by an atmosphere of love, openness and reciprocity. But now everyday makes our communities more united as these difficult circumstances pull us together and make us stronger, more resilient, just like that symbol of Sunday.
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Praying with Refugees in Cambodia: return requires constant trust and forgiveness
Sunday, September 01, 2013
Siem Reap, 1 September 2013 — When the landscape of home is a constant reminder of terrible injustice, how do you forgive and move forward, with neighbours who were once your jailers?
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Praying with refugees in Southern Africa
Thursday, August 01, 2013
Johannesburg, 1 August 2013 – When I go to a refugee camp I am often beset by requests from refugees for resettlement. I tell them that I have no control over this process and am not a UN refugee agency employee. Yet people still come….
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Praying with Refugees in Panama
Monday, July 01, 2013
(Panama City) July 1, 2013 — The plight of Colombian refugees and displaced persons is the most persistent humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere; it may also be one of the most ignored in the world. In just the last two decades, the nearly 50-year-long armed conflict has resulted in the internal and cross-border displacement of more than five million Colombians.
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Praying with Refugees: healing the wounds of division
Saturday, June 01, 2013
(Nijmegen, The Netherlands) June 1, 2013 – When there is a war or mass displacement, international relief organizations often rush in, help and after a while disappear again. The Church operates differently: it was there before the conflict, may have been part of the problem, hopefully is part of the solution and remains after the other organizations have left.
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Praying with Refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Masisi, 1 May 2013 – On his job contract it says he is a driver for the Jesuit Refugee Service team in the eastern Congolese town of Masisi. In reality Eradi Salumu is much more. The 39-year-old father of three has been forced to flee conflict in Congo on several occasions. Although he has never been formally recognised as a refugee, he has lived in exile in a number of African and European countries.
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Praying with Refugees: Palm Sunday in Beirut
Monday, April 01, 2013
Beirut, Palm Sunday, 1 April 2013 – It must have been a spring day like this, bright and sunny, when long ago Jesus entered Jerusalem on what we as Christians now call Palm Sunday. Last week in Lebanon, during the procession around St Joseph's Church in Beirut, worshippers – mostly domestic workers from the Philippines, South Sudan and Sri Lanka – waved their olive tree branches.
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Praying with Refugees in Tamil Nadu, India
Friday, March 01, 2013
Dindigul, 1 March 2013 – The three decades of conflict in Sri Lanka not only displaced a sizeable number of Tamils locally but also drove them to seek refuge in India. Today, more than 70,000 still live in 112 government camps in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
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Praying with Refugees for hope
Friday, February 01, 2013
Rome, 1 February 2013 – As we travelled toward Morobi, I was informed that Flabius, the head catechist in the village, had lost a daughter, and she had been buried only the day before. "He probably will not be at the seminar, Father, because there is much grief. This was his last child."
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Praying with refugees: the real face of peace
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
Caracas, 1 January 2013 – Recently, the Colombian government has opened peace talks with the with the largest left-wing guerrilla group, the FARC. Surely real peace building in Latin America needs participation of the victims of armed conflict in Colombia.
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Praying with refugees in Nairobi
Saturday, December 01, 2012
(Nairobi) December 1, 2012 — Urban refugees in Nairobi live on the margins of society, not legally allowed to work, and struggling in an already over-crowded city. Fleeing violence, political instability and drought, refugees end up living in economically-deprived areas, desperate to find a place to call home, searching for hospitality in an unfamiliar country.
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Praying with Refugees in Australia
Thursday, November 01, 2012
(Sydney) November 1, 2012 — The Jesuit Refugee Service office in Sydney is located in an inner city Jesuit parish. For many refugees a visa is the beginning of a new struggle, not the end. Psychological trauma and loss can be completely debilitating to even the strongest of personalities.
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Praying with Refugees in the Philippines
Monday, October 01, 2012
(Guindulungan, Philippines) October 1, 2012 — The southern Philippines has been ravaged by political violence since 2008. Jesuit Refugee Service supports internally displaced persons in their journey to become self-sufficient, and manages programs to strengthen peace building between communities in Guindulungan and Datu Piang municipalities.
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Praying with Refugees in Jordan
Saturday, September 01, 2012
(Amman, Jordan) September 1, 2012 – Iraqis have been seeking refuge in Jordan for decades, coming here to escape years of repeated wars, internal strife and economic hardship. Despite a slightly more stable situation in their home country, Iraqis from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds continue to arrive, seeking safety and the chance to build a more dignified life for themselves and their families.
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Praying with Refugees in Uganda
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
(Boston) August 1, 2012 — As we traveled toward Morobi in northern Uganda, Lodu informed me that Flabius, the head catechist in the village, had lost a daughter. But it was a much deeper tragedy. This good man had lost not only his daughter—and his wife a few years ago—but seven children to war and disease over time.
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Praying with Refugees in the United Kingdom
Sunday, July 01, 2012
(London) July 1, 2012 — Visiting the detention centres near Heathrow airport outside of London, Jesuit Refugee Service staff and volunteers accompany failed asylum seekers, in a pastoral capacity, striving to enhance their dignity and strengthen their resolve to remain strong in the face of much uncertainty.
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Praying with Refugees in the Dominican Republic
Friday, June 01, 2012
(Tierra Nueva, Dominican Republic) June 1, 2012 — The Haitian immigrants in Tierra Nueva are among the most economically marginalized people in the Dominican Republic. Their resources are limited even further by authorities who abuse their power in demanding bribes. More recently, the security of their neighborhoods has been threatened by an unsettling wave of violence.
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Praying with Refugees in Sri Lanka
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
(Vavuniya) May 1, 2012 — Sri Lanka concluded its war on May 18, 2009. It is estimated that more than 300,000 were forcibly displaced, having lost almost everything during the conflict, and between 40,000 –140,000 were killed in the final phase of the war alone.
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Praying with Refugees in India
Sunday, April 01, 2012
(Washington, D.C.) April 1, 2012 — The Chin people in Mizoram State, India, live in a protracted, urban refugee situation and face daunting problems related to protection, livelihood, health, and education. While many have been there for years, new arrivals continue, including many youth who are fleeing forced conscription by the Burmese military.
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Praying with Refugees in Cambodia
Thursday, March 01, 2012
(Phnom Penh) March 1, 2012 — Before Mohammed fled Burma, he was often stopped by the authorities on his way to school and sent to work in military camps. There he was made to cook, clean and carry heavy building materials, and he was punished when his captors were unhappy with his work.
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Praying with Refugees in Congo
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
(Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo) February 1, 2012 — About two million people have been internally displaced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by armed conflicts. The situation here is characterized by chronic and rampant sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls.
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Praying with Refugees from Colombia
Sunday, January 01, 2012
(Caracas) January 1, 2012 — Thousands of Colombian women and men are forced to cross their border to find protection. Their flight marks the beginning of a long and difficult journey to find peace and dignity. Their lack of knowledge about refugee rights reduces the likelihood their applications will be accepted by their host countries.
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Praying with Refugees: the spirit of accompaniment
Thursday, December 01, 2011
(Geneva) December 1, 2011 — The mission of Jesuit Refugee Service is to accompany, serve and plead the cause of refugees and forcibly displaced persons. Accompaniment, I have learned, is by its very nature reciprocal. It cannot be done alone and it cannot be done in a unilateral fashion.
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Praying with Ahmadiyya Muslim refugees
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
(Bangkok) November 1, 2011 — Ahmadiyya Muslim refugees were forced to flee Pakistan due to religious persecution. August was a particularly challenging and happy month as this year it marked Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. During Ramadan, they are not allowed to eat or drink during sunlight hours, a challenge in the Cambodian heat.
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Praying with Refugees from Somalia
Saturday, October 01, 2011
(Nairobi) October 1, 2011 – Since the beginning of the drought and hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa in July, tens of thousands of refugees have fled Somalia, most of them into Kenya and Ethiopia. They march for days or even weeks. Some do not survive the journey; others lose family members on the way or have to leave them behind.
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Praying with Refugees in Syria
Thursday, September 01, 2011
(Aleppo, Syria) September 1, 2011 — Since the beginning of this year, the situation in a number of Arab countries has changed considerably — caused in great part by popular political movements. This has not only led to changes in the political regimes or bloody confrontations, but has also created much forced displacement of peoples.
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Praying with Refugees: the opportunity of education
Monday, August 01, 2011
(Washington, D.C.) August 1, 2011 — Refugees don’t leave their countries simply because things are difficult, they leave because their lives are in danger and the situation is hopeless. They are driven by hope to seek new opportunities, not just for themselves, but, for their children.
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Praying with Refugees: hope for Haiti
Friday, July 01, 2011
Washington DC, July 1, 2011 — The earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010 caused much heartache, pain, and death. But, also present among the rubble was hope. For every story of hope there seemed to be one of heartbreak; every act of courage and progress teetered on the edge of frustration and hopelessness.
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Praying with Refugees in Australia
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Washington DC, June 1, 2011 — Boat people seeking asylum in Australia are first brought to Christmas Island, just 220 miles south of Indonesia but nearly 1,000 miles from the Australian mainland. Many of these boat people have no one to trust but God.
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Praying with Refugees from the Americas
Sunday, May 01, 2011
Washington DC, May 1, 2011 — Every day, undocumented men and women are deported from the United States without money, without food and without help. The deportees are primarily citizens of Mexico or Central American countries who were detained in U.S. federal detention centers and who are sent back to their country of origin.
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Praying with Refugees from Colombia
Friday, April 01, 2011
Washington DC, April 1, 2011 – In this Lenten season, we bring to mind Christ’s Way of the Cross, which begins with the call to "remain here and keep watch with me." (Matt 26:38)
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Praying with Refugees from Iraq
Monday, January 31, 2011
(February 1, 2011) More than 1.5 million Iraqi refugees have sought refuge in neighboring countries, particularly in Syria and Jordan, and Jesuit Refugee Service has opened projects in these countries to accompany and serve this population and their many needs.
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Sudan: Caught in Between
Saturday, January 01, 2011
Praying with Refugees, January 2011. When Jesuit Refugee Service went to Southern Sudan in the late 1990s, the staff shared the terror of internally displaced people caught up in the prolonged civil war. As 2011 dawns, JRS is still in Southern Sudan, accompanying the people in peacetime as we did during the war.
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Les Bonnes Nouvelles: the Good News
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Praying with Refugees, December 2010. As we make our journey during this Advent season let us hope and pray that we can respond in haste in our travel toward God and in our interior travel and examination of our own soul. Let us also hope and pray that we can respond in haste along very concrete paths of service of our neighbor.
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Fleeing From Home: Trapped in Detention
Friday, October 01, 2010
Praying with Refugees, October 2010. Human suffering, especially inflicted by people, saps our faith and our belief in a merciful and compassionate God and maybe even in the ultimate goodness of humanity. Confronted by human suffering, it is quite easy to ask: where is God in all this? It can also kindle within us a profound and powerful sense of empathy.
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Who Am I to be Considered Your Friend
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Praying with Refugees, September 2010. For refugees the experience of leaving home is sometimes surpassed by the experience of returning. For many refugees returning home can be traumatic. Nowhere is this experience more profoundly felt than in Afghanistan, where JRS began to work in 2005 by supporting refugees returning from Iran in a township outside Herat. The area is stony barren desert. When the returnees arrived, there were no facilities and nobody wanted to live there. An electrical transformer financed by JRS started to transform life in the township, and JRS became responsible for the returning refugees’ education and health services.
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Accompanying Refugees: Work Not without a Struggle
Sunday, August 01, 2010
Praying with Refugees, August 2010. Advocating the rights and needs of refugees is not a one-day job. Sometimes our contribution seems to accomplish nothing. Yet every step counts, however, small it may be.
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Educating Refugees: Proclaiming a Gospel of Hope
Thursday, July 01, 2010
Praying with Refugees, July 2010. Life is a struggle for survival for many of our world’s poor. More than one million Iraqis have sought refuge in Syria during the past seven years. Many of these refugees are poor, living anonymously in large cities with little hope for a brighter future. In Syria, these urban refugees can be reasonably sure that they are safe from bombs. But they are also painfully aware that their deprived and uncertain existence in exile presents other risks, especially for their children, many of who are growing up without an education. JRS is working to see that education is available.
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Urban Refugees: Making Visible Refugees Hidden in Plain Sight
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
This brief couplet of unknown origin captures in a few words the distinct charisms of four saints and founders of religious communities in the Church—the Cistercians, the Benedictines, the Franciscans and the Jesuits. Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), placed much focus on the plight of the poor in the great cities of his time.
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Ambassadors of Reconciliation (May 2010)
Saturday, May 01, 2010
Last November a group of JRS directors met in Sri Lanka, a country that has suffered from a long and bloody civil war, to reflect on how reconciliation is part of the ministry of Jesuit Refugee Service. We began by recounting personal experiences of the need and longing for reconciliation from our ministry with refugees or forced migrants.
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The Lord is Risen!
Thursday, April 01, 2010
(Washington, D.C.) April 1, 2010 - Their eyes were opened and they recognized him! A number of years ago Fr. Gildo Dominici was working with Jesuit Refugee Service in Galang, Indonesia. His reflection on living with refugees reminds us of the call to know the Risen Christ that refugees and those who work with and for them are invited to experience.
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Listen (March 2010)
Monday, March 01, 2010
The recent tragedy in Haiti has called the entire international community to listen to the needs of the many thousands of displaced earthquake victims. As we ask ourselves how we might best respond to needs of the Haitian people, let’s listen . . . listen prayerfully to their needs and hopes.
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Lord, teach me to be generous... to serve you as you deserve (February 2010)
Monday, February 01, 2010

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God's loving presence flowing toward us (January 2010)
Friday, January 01, 2010
In her recently published book, This Flowing Toward Me, Sr. Marilyn Lacey, R.S.M. urges us to grow in awareness of God’s holy presence pulsing beneath our feet in the ordinary stuff of daily life. Like the astonished Moses before the burning bush, we need to open our eyes and remove our sandals at the realization of God’s nearness to us in the embrace of daily life. Marilyn Lacey, who spent many years working with refugees both in Thailand and the U.S., writes of how refugees opened her to the awareness of God’s presence in the ordinary moments of daily life.
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Love (December 2009)
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
In July of this year, Pope Benedict XVI published an encyclical letter to “all people of good will.” Caritas in Veritate, or Charity in Truth, reflects on the theme of social development – and it’s silent partner, social isolation – in our ever-more interconnected world. As we recall God’s love during this Advent season,Charity in Truth is an apt place to reflect upon the Church’s social doctrine of charity, which is itself rooted in love.
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Thoughts of peace and a future of hope (November 2009)
Sunday, November 01, 2009
A refugee from Southern Sudan reflects on the path that led him to his awareness of God.
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Messengers of the Spirit (October 2009)
Thursday, October 01, 2009
The measure of JRS work in accompanying refugees can be determined only by the love we share, revealed in our mutual giving. For countless JRS workers, it is displaced people, outcasts, and victims of war who are messengers of the spirit of joy and service found in the Gospel.
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Humble Service (September 2009)
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Reflect about one refugee’s practice of the Christian mandate to humble service.
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Wounded but not defeated ... a springtime of hope is possible (August 2009)
Saturday, August 01, 2009
Fr. Bernard Arputhasamy, S.J., Regional Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/Asia Pacific, has witnessed the horrors wrought by landmines years after they were placed and then forgotten. Join him in Praying with Refugees who suffer long after soldiers have retreated.
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Accompaniment: It Is Good That We Are Here (July 2009)
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
This year more than 400,000 people will be held in detention centers throughout the United States. Fr. Jack Mattimore, S.J, a chaplain at a federal detention facility in Batavia, New York, accompanies detainees while they wait for the results of their immigration proceedings.
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Holding on to Hope (June 2009)
Monday, June 01, 2009

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A Mother's Prayer (May 2009)
Friday, May 01, 2009

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The Cross of Christ (April 2009)
Wednesday, April 01, 2009

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Refugees — Images of God (March 2009)
Sunday, March 01, 2009

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Experiencing Limitations (February 2009)
Sunday, February 01, 2009

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Discovering Life's Purpose (January 2009)
Thursday, January 01, 2009

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Prayer to the Christ of the Refugees
Monday, December 01, 2008

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God Does Not Forget His People
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Father Gary Smith, S.J. worked for six years with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Sudanese refugee camps in northern Uganda. In his recently published African spiritual journal, They Come Back Singing: Finding God with the Refugees, he reflects on the South Sudanese refugees who helped him understand himself as “loved and called” by God:
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Exile: A Call to Renewal
Wednesday, October 01, 2008

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The Church and Refugees: Healing a Shameful Wound (September 2008)
Monday, September 01, 2008

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God Accompanies Us in Exile (August 2008)
Friday, August 01, 2008

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