South Africa: JRS Southern Africa and South Africa Mark the Beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy
08 December 2015

Father David Holdcroft SJ, JRS Southern Africa Regional Director, celebrating Mass with JRS Southern Africa Regional Office staff, JRS South Africa Country Staff, refugees and asylum seekers, at the JRS South Africa Country Office. (Samson Ogunyemi/Jesuit Refugee Service)
Father Tom Smolich SJ, JRS International Director, sums up our efforts in JRS best: “We must show mercy to those who are at the mercy of outside forces. We must mobilise ourselves for those who are in motion.”

Johannesburg, 8 December 2015 – The 8th of December 2015, marks the first day of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. In conjunction with this, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), launched the Mercy in Motion advocacy and fundraising campaign to expand and strengthen our education programmes. Our goal is to provide educational services to 100,000 more refugees than we currently do by the year 2020.

The day holds even greater significance for Catholics as it is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which celebrates the solemn belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This most auspicious day was marked with a celebration of Mass with Father David Holdcroft SJ, JRS Southern Africa Regional Director. The Mass celebration was held at the JRS South Africa, Johannesburg Office and included staff of both the Regional and Country Offices as well as the refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people we work with.

In his homily, Father Holdcroft SJ, explained how we as people, at times, transfer the difficulties we have encountered through our interactions with others; be it family, friends or society at large; to others. “Our parents are not perfect and our interactions with others might leave us having inherited their ways of dealing with things, in what can only be described as leaving us worse for wear. We in turn transfer it to others, be it our children or any other people we interact with. Mary, believed by the Church to have been born free of original sin, did not transfer that negativity she had encountered in the world to others. She left the world in a better state then what she found it.” Father Holdcroft SJ, explained in his homily.

He went on to elaborate on how relevant that is today in our lives and in the work that we do: “As Pope Francis says mercy is a person, Jesus. We both experience his mercy for us and then we can carry on his work both by not transferring the negativity we encounter to those that we meet in our daily lives, but also by striving to make their conditions better than when we encountered them.”

“This ultimately is the only way we can tackle the evil that is in the world”

This is very relevant in the work we do at JRS and echoes the sentiments expressed by Pope Francis at his address at the recent 35thAnniversary of JRS, held on the 14th November 2015, at Clementine Hall at the Vatican: “As human beings, we are often at the mercy of war, of nature, of governments – of forces beyond our control. For this reason, nearly 60 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes, constantly moving. But for people living in motion, those who cannot take possessions can bring knowledge and change their world.”

The work we do through JRS, is meant to counter this reality for people forced into displacement and our work is focused at giving an opportunity to refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people to be able to rebuild their lives, helping host populations too. Education is the focus of the Mercy in Motion initiative launched on the 8th December and Pope Francis’ words once more make it absolutely clear why this is indeed an important act of mercy: “to give a child a seat at school is the finest gift you can give….For children forced to emigrate, schools are places of freedom.”

The reality that the Mercy in Motion campaign wishes to tackle is the fact that a quality education gives refugees the tools not only to contribute to their new communities, but also to rebuild their old ones. Refugees however, face a variety of barriers trying to access education, from overcrowding in schools to xenophobia in host communities.

Father Tom Smolich SJ, JRS International Director, sums up our efforts in JRS best: “We must show mercy to those who are at the mercy of outside forces. We must mobilise ourselves for those who are in motion.”



The announcement and Press Release, announcing the the launch of the Mercy in Motion Campaign.



Press Contact Information
Gushwell F. Brooks
gushwell.brooks@jrs.net
+27 11 618 3404