A strategic response to refugees and asylum seekers

Fr. Aloysious Mowe SJ, Director of JRS Australia and Chair of the Jesuit Province Refugee and Asylum Seeker Task force.

Fr. Aloysious Mowe SJ, Director of JRS Australia and Chair of the Jesuit Province Refugee and Asylum Seeker Task force.

To welcome strangers who have been mistreated along their way is a characteristic Christian act of compassion. It is to do exactly what the Good Samaritan of Jesus’ story did. 

People who are forced by persecution in their own land to seek protection elsewhere tug at our hearts and our consciences.

Hardly a day goes by without stories of the plight of children in detention, of people fleeing bombing and terror in Syria and Iraq, of people drowning at sea, and of people seeking entry into Europe or being pushed back at the borders.

We see written on their faces fear for their children, joy at finding a welcoming face and despair at being mistreated and rejected. Each day their need grows.

I am grateful and heartened that our Province has been serviceable to people who seek safety, especially through Jesuit Refugee Service, but also through Jesuit Social Services, such advocates as Fr Frank Brennan SJ and others, and through the many initiatives of the people working in our Jesuit ministries.

But in the face of great and growing need we need also to develop a strategy that will draw on all our resources and allow all our ministries to be involved as part of our Province response.

To this end I have formed a taskforce which will harness the experience of our ministries with refugees, the present and future needs of people seeking protection, our resources, the deepening of relationships with Muslims who have fled to us, and ways of implementing and evaluating the strategy.

The members of the taskforce will be Chairperson Fr Aloysious Mowe, SJ (Jesuit Refugee Service), Ms Sally Parnell (Jesuit Social Services), Mr Peter Colledge (St Ignatius’, Riverview) and Fr Nguyen Hoang Trung (Jesuit Mission).

A representative from our Jesuit parishes will also be appointed. The taskforce will report back to me in six months.

To welcome strangers who have been mistreated along their way is a characteristic Christian act of compassion. It is to do exactly what the Good Samaritan of Jesus’ story did.

So the work of the taskforce will fittingly be undertaken in the Year of Mercy promulgated by Pope Francis. It makes the highest claim on us as a human, Christian, Catholic and Jesuit responsibility.

Fr Brian McCoy SJ

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