On Saturday, we held our first Volunteer morning of reflection and sharing. It was a thoughtful and collaborative day held by JRS for all our volunteers, whether they help us at our weekly day centre, visit those in immigration detention, welcome refugees in their homes through our hosting scheme, or keep the office running smoothly throughout the week. Our volunteers are the heart of the work we do at JRS; without their dedication and commitment we could not accompany, or advocate for those we serve. The reflection morning allowed volunteers not only to reflect on the lives of the people they serve, but also to share their own journeys and emotions about the, often challenging, work they do. Both staff and volunteers were enthusiastic, talkative and found spiritual and emotional value in reflecting deeply with one another. Below, one of our detention volunteers, Sr Linda, shares what the day meant for her:
“It was, unexpectedly, surprisingly enjoyable to be in the JRS Volunteer’s Reflection Day last Saturday. I had an immensely fun and heart-warming encounter with other volunteers, especially during our small group sharing. The day was filled with smiles, laughter, listening, contemplation, reflection, deep sharing and thought-provoking insights. It was a give-and-take process where no one was left behind, letting everyone be heard and seen, and treated as important. The space created was open to all, and so there was a real sense of freedom, trust and respect. The highlight of this day for me was when we were asked to reflect and share on what motivates us to do what we do as volunteers. We asked ourselves, ‘which of my personal values resonate with those of JRS?’. My gifts are of compassion, hospitality, solidarity and participation, and a longing for justice and peace that promote dignity in people and ensure their welfare. These values echo very well with what JRS stands for.
“We also commemorated the 3rd World Day of the Poor by reflecting on Pope Francis’ words; “the poor save us because they enable us to encounter the face of Jesus Christ.” Through JRS, I have felt humbled to encounter people whom we call ‘the marginalised poor’, in whose realities I have been strongly drawn to see God, face to face. Through these poor people, I have learnt to understand what ‘loving attentiveness’ is and how ‘to sow a tangible seeds of hope’; both in them and in myself.
“Truly, what a great privileged encounter to have met other volunteers like me. Volunteers who choose to spend their precious time, gifts, talents, skills and resources to accompany, serve and advocate for people whom JRS is called to journey with. For this, I am hugely thankful to JRS; for each invaluable opportunity where I have been invited to learn and grow, thus offering myself more in the service of those in need.’”
Has Sr Linda’s experience inspired you? Volunteer with us at JRS and make a difference to the lives of destitute refugees, and those in immigration detention.