In recognition of the Jesuit Refugee Service’s 43rd Anniversary, an event was held on Friday, November 10th, where JRS/USA celebrated the 43rd Anniversary with a dinner – Walking with Refugees: Pathways to Thrive – at the New York City Athletic Club in Midtown Manhattan. This was the first in-person fundraiser the organization has held since COVID. The fundraiser directly supports the Greatest Need Fund for JRS’s global programs.
“It was an evening of hope,” said Joan Rosenhauer, President of JRS/USA. “From inspiring stories of JRS programs around the globe to our partners who make this work possible, we are so grateful to our JRS/USA community and all those committed to walking with refugees.” In early 2024, Joan Rosenhauer will be retiring from her position after six years of service to JRS, as well as over 30 years of service to the Catholic Church including time with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS). Several speakers throughout the night took the time to thank her for her dedicated work and recognized how JRS/USA has grown under her leadership.
The event honored Fr. James Martin, S.J., Editor At Large at America Media, for his continued work with those forced to flee their homes. As a young Jesuit, Fr. Martin spent two years working with JRS in Nairobi, Kenya. There, he helped start the Mikono Refugee Craft Shop, an initiative that offers a space for refugees to showcase and sell their hand-crafted products.
“I always tell people that if and when I get to heaven and God asks me what I did with my life, I won’t say I wrote this or that book or I worked at America Media or that I served on a Vatican dicastery. As meaningful and important as those things have been to me, I will say I worked, God, with your friends, the refugees.” Fr. Martin said, “I think it’s the most important thing I’ve ever done as a Jesuit.”
Those also in attendance included Jeannie and Jack Gaffigan, representatives from the Permanent Mission of Zimbabwe to the United Nations, British Robinson from Prosper Africa, and JRS/USA Board members.
The event highlighted the value of JRS’s work while recognizing the need to continue creating compassionate solutions for a world facing increased displacement. “JRS is making a significant impact on the lives of displaced persons around the world,” said Austin Fragomen Jr., Vice Chair of the JRS/USA Board of Directors. “Tonight, we had the chance to commemorate the power of accompaniment and celebrate our partners who directly support life-saving refugee assistance programs.”
JRS was founded in November 1980 by Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J, the then Superior General of the Society of Jesus, to respond to the plight of Vietnamese refugees. Today, JRS is present in 58 countries, accompanying forcibly displaced people through the delivery of education, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), and livelihoods programs.
Learn more by visiting JRS/USA’s website: https://www.jrsusa.org/.