The Sisters of the Holy Family were founded in 1816 by Saint Emilie de Rodat in France, who at a young age realised her vocation to serve God by helping those in need. Being drawn in particular to the poor, she began her ministry by teaching young children, whose mothers were unable to provide them with an education. As her work branched out to include those facing many forms of physical struggle, Emilie, along with three companions, founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Saint Emilie.
Emilie desired that her Congregation would always be ready to go out and respond to those who are most in need. Serving the needs of the poor with compassion, love and tenderness has been the spirit of the Sisters of the Holy Family who continue St Emilie’s mission.
This same spirit is how, more than 200 years later, St Emilie’s congregation of Sisters in London came to learn about the needs of destitute refugees through JRS UK.
Living destitute at the hands of a harsh asylum system, hundreds of friends are left with no choice but to live in the home of a friend or on the street. To this end JRS UK started the At Home hosting scheme in 2012. Sisters of Holy Family (St Emilie) were regular, generous hosts for our At Home scheme, over time hosting six refugees, one at a time, in their home.
In 2019, the Sisters of The Holy Family of St Emilie, who have become dedicated supporters of JRS UK, have offered a house, rent free, to host destitute female refugees who find themselves homeless. Just like their foundress, the Sisters have shown a Christ-like mercy and compassion to women who face the trauma of living on the street.
In addition to the donation of the house, the Sisters have donated a grant to cover ten years’ worth of running costs. The house will be managed by JRS UK and offer refugee women safety and comfort from a life on the street.
Safe accommodation is the most pressing need for most of our refugee friends. Without government support nor the right to work, they cannot afford to rent a place to live.
“As Sisters of the Holy Family we are delighted to think that our former formation house will be used for such a necessary and worthwhile venture and one that is so much in line with the spirit of our foundress Saint Emilie” – Sister Irena, Provincial of Sisters of the Holy Family (St Emilie)
The house is situated in South London and has 10 ensuite bedrooms. With thanks to Sisters of The Holy Family (St Emilie) and other generous donors supporting capital renovations, Emilie House is hoped to be up and running in the Autumn, ready to receive its first guests. The house has been named ‘Emilie House’, in honour of St Emilie’s legacy which has made this possible. Along with our ‘At Home’ scheme, Emilie House will be used to meet the urgent needs of our friends for shelter and safety.
JRS UK are extremely grateful to the Sisters for such a generous gift, and needless to say so are our refugee friends!
Read more about Emilie House and other updates by viewing our most recent quarterly update newsletter ‘Together’.
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