October 18, 2010
|"I have dedicated my life, my educational pursuits, and my work as a Jesuit to... work with refugees, internally displaced, and marginalized members of our society," said Fr. Evans.|
Fr. Michael A. Evans, S.J. today becomes the sixth National Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. Fr. Evans succeeds Fr. Kenneth J. Gavin, S.J., who next year becomes Assistant Director of Jesuit Refugee Service International in Rome.
Fr. Evans served from 1990 through 1996 as the JRS Eastern Africa Regional Director and from 2000 through 2010 as Development Director and Treasurer of the Jesuit province of Eastern Africa. Fr. Evans’ broad experience and knowledge of JRS will serve him well and will ensure a smooth transition as he helps lead JRS/USA into a future of continued accompaniment, service and defense of refugees in need.
Fr. Evans recalls the letter Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., former Superior General of the Society of Jesus, wrote to Jesuits worldwide in 1980, asking “every Jesuit world-wide to consider how his personal life, his actions, his institutional apostolate, etc. could begin to address the world-wide refugee crisis.”
For thirty years, "I have dedicated my life, my educational pursuits, and my work as a Jesuit to do just that – in the context of social ethics and economic development – to work with refugees, internally displaced, and marginalized members of our society," said Fr. Evans.
In 2003, Fr. Kenneth J. Gavin, S.J. joined Jesuit Refugee Service/USA as its fifth national director, the first director to work solely on behalf of JRS/USA. He had served as the Provincial of the Jesuits in the New York area from 1996 to 2002, and previously as President of Regis High School in New York City. His commitment to refugees and the forcibly displaced is rooted in the Jesuits' option for the poor and grounded in his belief that God is present even in the most tragic events of human history.
As vice-chair of Refugee Council USA in 2006, Fr. Gavin gave compelling testimony to the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary Subcommittee on the importance of the U.S. refugee program saying, “they [refugees] have dared to hope for a better future, and it is in our power to offer them a new life and new hope.”
Fr. Gavin continued the JRS focus of accompaniment through pastoral service of non-citizens in detention, and expanded that mission to the care of deported migrants through JRS/USA's unique collaborative partnership in the Kino Border Initiative.
Fr. Gavin has worked to increase JRS/USA's impact on refugee advocacy issues by advancing advocacy outreach on multiple international issues: including raising the profile of the largest conflict-related humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere and increasing U.S. State Department assistance to Colombian refugees, highlighting the needs of stateless children of Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic, advocating for the resettlement of Bhutanese refugees, flagging protection concerns of the Tamil people throughout Sri Lanka, and focusing on the plight of urban refugees throughout the world.
“I am filled with gratitude for the blessings that I have received during my seven years with JRS/USA. In addition to all the treasures of supportive friends and co-workers, at this moment my mind focuses on all the refugees and forcibly displaced people whom I have met and accompanied during the past seven years. Like many before me in JRS, my life has been transformed by them,” said Fr. Gavin.
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA (http://www.jrsusa.org) is an international Catholic non-governmental organization whose mission is to serve, accompany, and defend the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons, witnessing 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 also 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.
JRS works in more than 57 countries worldwide to meet the educational, health, social and other needs of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. JRS services are made available to refugees and displaced persons regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs. JRS provides primary and secondary education to approximately 170,000 children, and undertakes advocacy to ensure that all displaced children are provided with a quality education.
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