This past Sunday the Catholic community celebrated World Mission Sunday, a day when we turn our thoughts to the mission churches across the world and the work that they do. Missio, the Pope’s official charity for overseas mission, reminded us of the help and support that is needed in South Sudan where conflict still continues.
In Yambio and Maban, JRS South Sudan are investing in education so as to prepare a future generation to learn how to settle disputes through dialogue rather than through the violence which is currently present.
In these areas the efforts of the Church to bring people together in peace and to sow love where there is hatred is essential. In His message for this day, the Pope encourages us to reflect on our Catholic identity, to question what is the basis of our mission? What is the heart of our mission?
With work piling up and deadlines looming it is often easy to push questions of our identity and mission to the back of our minds. However, it is often our mission which is the driving force behind a lot of what we do and why we do it. Within a charity it is important to continually reflect on what is at the heart of our works and how we can better use that to guide us through our day to day life.
In acknowledgement of this, myself and the JRS UK staff took some time away from the office and travelled up to Formby beach to reflect and discern together on how the spirit works through our organisation. Bathed in northern sunshine we were guided through a number of exercises which gave us some space to contemplate on how we work together as a charity. We had the opportunity to look to the future and discuss what we hoped to see as we move forward.
When the invitation to the staff retreat was initially extended to me I was a little apprehensive and anxious about how it would work. I am however very glad that I decided to go along as it was a very interesting experience; one where I learnt a lot about myself, my colleagues and our shared visions and hopes for JRS. It was an enjoyable experience, filled with as much laughter as there was silent reflection.
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
For me, the retreat came at a great time as I was also able to spend some time reflecting on my first month at JRS UK as the new ‘Faith that does Justice Intern’. I’ll admit that there has been a large learning curve, not only as I become accustomed to working life (a change from the daily afternoon naps of my student days), but also with each task that is passed my way. I have learnt a lot in the past month about the work of JRS UK and as I continue I look forward to learning more and developing within my role. I am reminded of a passage from Mathew’s Gospel where Jesus describes the Kingdom of Heaven as a mustard seed, it is the smallest of seeds but grows into the greatest of the herbs. I can see that my work at JRS is slowly becoming the tree described in that passage. It may have started as a small seed, an interest in charity work and catholic social teaching, but is quickly growing thanks to the support of the people I work with and our refugee friends.