Jesuit Refugee Service 30th Anniversary Online Retreat
This November 14th we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of Jesuit Refugee Service. We recall fondly Father Pedro Arrupe’s sound advice to "pray, pray much" as he encouraged the struggling first generation of JRS team members in Southeast Asia to bring the overwhelming challenges of their new apostolic work to the Lord in prayer.
Three decades later, we once again invite our JRS family — current and former staff members, Jesuits, friends and colleagues—to reflect prayerfully on the ways in which we discover the presence of God in our ministry with refugees and displaced persons.
During the next four weeks we invite you — day by day — into an experience of "prayerful storytelling" as we share with you the grace-filled stories of God’s powerful love for all of us in JRS. Each day of this online "Thirty Day Retreat" will offer us the opportunity to reflect prayerfully on the situation of refugees through the lens of The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.
The Spiritual Exercises have been described as "a journey of transformation and conversion."1 More than a book of rote prayers or lockstep exercises, Ignatius’s little book of exercises was designed to help people get in touch with their experiences of God, become more and more sensitive to them, and to see how God has been and continues to work within them. It is with this spirit that we approach the coming thirty days. Guided by the experiences and stories of JRS staff members—past and present—you will be invited to join your own story and lived experience to God’s story, especially as it is told to us in the life of Jesus.
As you begin this JRS retreat, we encourage you to be open and generous, asking the Lord to create within you deep desires to do great things for God and for those who are most vulnerable in our world. Remember, as you progress through this retreat, that God will direct you and touch your soul with love and challenge in a truly personal way. We trust that the graces of this retreat will renew us and transform us into the heart of Jesus, deepening our commitment to accompany, serve and defend the rights of refugees and forcibly displaced people.
You are invited to join us each day in prayer for the coming four weeks. May God move your heart through the thoughts, desires, memories, and feelings that come to you in these days of "prayerful storytelling."
Ad majorem Dei gloriam
1 Fagin, Gerald M. Putting on the Heart of Christ: How the Spiritual Exercises Invite Us to a Virtuous Life. Chicago: Loyola Press, 2010.