JRS/USA’s Pentecost Prayer for Refugees and Migrants offered JRS partners from across the U.S. the opportunity to stand in solidarity with those who are most vulnerable and to work towards a more just and compassionate world. The following testimony was provided by parishioners at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Phoenix, Arizona who organized an event that showcased the power of solidarity and highlighted the urgent need to address the challenges faced by migrants and refugees, fostering a collective commitment to creating a more inclusive and welcoming society.
On Pentecost Day this year, at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Phoenix, Arizona, we came together for the first time with other congregations and institutions to pray for migrants and refugees. The event was organized by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), providing us with an opportunity to share and hear experiences among participants.
We had the privilege of listening to Aymard’s testimony, who immigrated from Burundi to the United States to pursue his studies in engineering. This event held particular importance for him as a reminder of the individuals fleeing racial discrimination in his home country. Burundi endured a twelve-year civil war between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups, leading many Burundians to seek refuge in our nation. They remain eternally grateful for the opportunity to rebuild their lives here.
The second testimony came from Isaac, who took his family on a leisure trip to Central Europe. Isaac expressed his regret over the negative comments he heard from local communities regarding Ukrainian refugees. The conflict in Ukraine has displaced 8.2 million refugees across Europe. In his transient role as a foreigner, in this case, a tourist, Isaac was able to better empathize with the plight of other foreigners facing even more challenging circumstances. He reminded us of the importance of working towards changing perceptions about migrants and refugees within our own country.
Our group of CORE volunteers, who regularly visit the Kino Border Initiative migrant shelter at the Mexico border, bore witness to the harsh realities faced by these individuals. At the Nogales crossing, numerous families await the opportunity to apply for asylum in the United States, fleeing persecution in their countries of origin. For CORE volunteers, their exposure to the realities experienced by migrants has deepened their faith and strengthened their commitment to continue advocating and working for them within our nation.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the JRS for affording us the chance to unite in solidarity with other individuals who share their remarkable dedication to assisting migrants and refugees. May the Holy Spirit, who propels us to engage with a diverse world of languages and realities, help us always remember that as believers, we were once strangers and persecuted ourselves, entrusted with the mission of spreading the message of Jesus Christ to the world.