And we made each other welcome

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And we made each other welcome

Women sharing in solidarity with one another

30 June 2016

And we made each other welcome

A sunny day earlier this summer witnessed the gathering of eight women in rural Shropshire. Inspired by hearing of the JRS Women4Women project, I decided to invite a small group to my home from 10.00 am until 3.00 pm (mustn’t forget the school run!). Our theme was welcoming the stranger. A small donation and/or bring a little food to share was requested so that no-one would be excluded by cost. The day was open to women of any faith or none, although the invitation made it clear our vantage point would be Christian. We used a large poster of Van Gogh’s Good Samaritan as our starting point. This drew us into some artwork of our own (definitely no talent required!) as we thought about our own ‘inner strangers’ and how we welcome them. A guided imaginative prayer followed our happily shared lunch and then some time of silence and reflection. We finished by each lighting a candle to symbolise our life in community and reaching out to others. I was nervous beforehand but I need not have been; our day was fruitful and felt blessed. Plus, my freezer was full at the end! It was great to feel a connection with other women, both near and far, to raise £120 and to explore more deeply the timeless parable. Rachel Stanworth

A couple of weeks later, another group of women who have all been part of JRS’s Women4Women’s programme, also gathered for an afternoon of friendship, creativity and prayer. We travelled up the road from our Centre in Wapping to St Saviour’s Priory in Hackney. After a tasty lunch, we spent some time introducing ourselves and sharing what we had learnt over the last ten monthly meetings since last September. Participants who have all made a journey to the UK as refugees shared that they had appreciated meeting other women and that the group was good for gaining confidence, thinking less about stress, taking home something they had made… The fellowship together helps each one feel better about themselves, they feel joy and feel alive. We stitched handmade rosettes / brooches to celebrate our accomplishments over the year, then came up with ideas for next year’s programme. Each person got a goody pack of mini toiletry treats to take home. After relaxing in the beautiful surroundings of the priory gardens, we shared our gratitude to God and with one another. Kate Monkhouse


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Jesuit Refugee Service UK
The Hurtado Jesuit Centre
2 Chandler Street, London E1W 2QT

020 7488 7310
uk@jrs.net

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