JRS’s 40th Anniversary Year

JRS joined other international agencies to work with the survivors of the massacre in Rwanda, with projects in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zaire (DR Congo)

November 14, 2020 Jesuit Refugee Service will mark 40 years of accompaniment, advocacy, and service to refugees.

Fr. Pedro Arrupe saw them on boats, risking their lives, crossing dangerous waters in small, unstable vessels – his brothers and sisters who had no choice but to flee. His heart was moved by these “boat people” fleeing from war in Vietnam and he felt compelled to respond. Fr. Arrupe, then Superior General of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), called on his Jesuit brothers around the world to respond to all refugees and forcibly displaced people. This was the start of Jesuit Refugee Service in 1980.

Since 1980, JRS has been accompanying, serving, and advocating for refugees and displaced people. It has been a journey through the tears of the boat people of Vietnam, the killing fields of Cambodia, the silent march of millions in Africa, the war and destruction in Iraq and Syria, the unrest and instability in Colombia and then Venezuela, the gang violence in the Northern Triangle of Central America, and the treacherous waters of the Mediterranean. It has been a road filled with shared sorrow and pain, but also reconciliation and joy.

As we recognize these 40 years and the journey we have been on, we want to honor those who’ve been our companions – beneficiaries, benefactors, volunteers, staff, leaders, and partners in countries around the world.

Unfortunately, the journey is not over after 40 years. In fact, the needs continue to grow, with more than 70 million people forcibly displaced in this world. We’d like to honor all of those along the journey and respond to these growing needs by setting an ambitious goal to raise $4.4 million in private contributions. The funds raised will help us to continue to respond to the needs of displaced people around the world.

You can help us get there:

  • Save the Date – Join JRS for our Anniversary National Virtual Event, November 12 – Walking with Refugees for 40 Years – featuring United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi  or participate in your local community on JRS Day, November 14, a day for Jesuit organizations to recognize refugees, recently announced by Father General Arturo Sosa.
  • Follow along – Learn more about the lives of refugees and displaced people, and discover the companions we’ve met along our journey through profiles we’ll be sharing over the next 40 weeks. Click here to meet one of the companions we’ve met in the last 40 years of accompaniment and follow along throughout the year.
  • Get Involved – You can help us reach our goal by raising awareness or funds for refugees around the world. Visit our “Take Action” page to learn about ways you can help or contact outreach@jrsusa.org for more information.