As people spend their summer trying to get away for a well-earned break, we often see the pews at Masses each Sunday become a little more sparsely populated and parish life a bit quieter. Now though, some of the leaves on the trees are already beginning to fall and the children are beginning to return to school ahead of the new academic year. These are the tell-tale signs that we have reached the end of summer. Whilst some of the students might not be too excited to be going back to their classes, it is an exciting time for our work at JRS, as we look forward to meeting people wanting to put their faith into action.
One of the biggest pleasures in my role as Community Outreach Officer at JRS UK has been the wide variety of parish and church communities that I have visited, sharing some of the experiences of our refugee friends and our mission to journey alongside them accompanying, serving and advocating on their behalf. I have been able to visit large parishes in the bustling city centres as well as smaller ones in the suburbs and beyond. I have seen many different styles of liturgies as well as very diverse faith communities made up of people from different nations and traditions. In many ways, it has been a great witness to how catholic the Church really is.
It is for this reason that I look with excitement to the next few months as the diary becomes busier with visits to parishes across Greater London. Whenever I visit a new parish, I am always moved by the response of those people who show great interest and empathy upon hearing about the lives of our refugee friends. It is often in witnessing a community of faith praying for our refugee friends that touches me the most, knowing the deep faith that many of our friends possess themselves.
As a result of our outreach to parishes, many are compelled to become more directly involved in our work, becoming volunteers, hosts or regular donors. In some parishes, there have been more coordinated efforts, which bring the whole parish together. Our Lady and Catherine of Siena in Bow and the Ealing Abbey parish are two great examples of parishes that have fundraised large amounts to support our refugee friends. Other parishes like Sacred Heart in Kilburn have created groups who meet to look at how their community can show solidarity to those seeking sanctuary in our country.
These practical and very generous steps are very important for us at JRS, meaning we are able to attend to the needs of those who experience real hardship each day. We will be releasing a new Parish Pack next month, offering resources to show the many ways parishes, and parishioners can join in with our mission to accompany, serve and advocate for our refugee friends who are subjected to destitution and detention. We hope many more parishes will join in discerning how they can put faith into action, living out Christ’s call to all his followers to welcome him in the stranger and the marginalised.
If you are interested in receiving a Parish Pack or in having someone from JRS come to visit your parish, please contact Nick: firstname.lastname@example.org
Event: Come and See!
Join us for our Open House event, ‘Come and See’ which will be taking place on Saturday 5th October from 11:00 – 13:00. The day will give you a chance to come, see our centre in Wapping, meet our team and speak to other supporters and volunteers.