Students at JRS vocational training centre for young people from all religious groups and communities in the city of Bambari. The students receive literacy courses and mechanical or tailoring training, as well as participate in peace building and reconciliation courses.

Prompted by urgent global realities and by needs perceived among refugees and host communities, JRS has chosen reconciliation as one of the four goals of its Strategic Framework for the years 2019 to 2023.

This emphasis builds on JRS’s long experience of building bridges through its projects and presence, and reflects the priority given by the Society of Jesus to the mission of reconciliation and justice, which it describes as “the call to share God’s work of reconciliation in our broken world.”

JRS articulates reconciliation as a journey to “create right relationships” among the refugees we serve, between refugees and host communities, and our teams around the world. Such reconciliation is rooted in justice and sought in dialogue among diverse religions, cultures, and groups.

JRS sees the urgent need to work for reconciliation and to build social cohesion in practically all the places it is present. This need is manifested in the personal and communal impacts of the human violence that drives displacement, especially when such violence erupts in poor countries, among groups living in close proximity, and leads to long periods of communal unrest and suspicion.

Many refugees face varying degrees of hostility on their journey to safety and once they reach a host country. The lack of welcome is due to complex factors, which differ from one place to another. Conspicuous are political movements that feed on cultural and economic anxieties, policies that reflect a shift away from solidarity, justice, human rights, and a climate marked by growing xenophobia.

The JRS mission of reconciliation unfolds differently from place to place, with a focus on building bridges through education and among youth, and on creating spaces of hospitality and welcome. Priority is given to building the capacity of communities themselves to mobilize to work for reconciliation and social cohesion.

Our goals

  • To make the faith-based reconciliation approach an intentional and integral part of JRS mission and ministry.
  • To strengthen the capacities of JRS teams, refugees, and host communities in order to resolve conflict and address the drivers of discrimination and violence while striving for individual and communal transformation.

Why a faith-based reconciliation approach?

As a faith-based organisation, we respect the critical importance of religious beliefs in providing a strong personal and communal foundation for values and resilience, not least among refugees and in conflict settings.

The way that JRS approaches faith-based reconciliation is unique in each location. In many places, the communities consist of several different faith groups living together, where JRS facilitates inter-religious understanding. In other areas, JRS serves refugees and host communities who follow the same faith, and we encourage the groups to connect over the shared values of their religion. In all cases, JRS believes the most important value is that of respect for our common humanity above all differences.

Our Guiding Principles

The principles that guide the JRS reconciliation strategy are rooted in the perspective that refugees are on a journey that links their past, present, and future. We accompany refugees on the journey to protect their dignity and their life, and to create right relationships among themselves, with others, with God, and with creation.