On the very day the suffering city of Aleppo was falling to Syrian and Russian and Iranian forces the Administrative Council meeting of JRS International were meeting in Rome for their December 2016 meeting. Irish Jesuit John Guiney SJ was there. He says that all those present were aware of the widespread reports of massacres of whole families in the shattered ruins of the city.
Fr. Victor Assouad SJ, the new Assistant for Western Europe who was born and ordained in Aleppo, had just arrived in Rome to begin his course in Italian. “All we could do was pray with him and for all the Syrian people during these traumatic times where the darkness of humanity seems to overshadow any light”, said John. “Victor reported that the Jesuits continue to be in Aleppo giving food to the hungry and offering every support they can to the suffering people…a real light of hope in the darkness.”
Discussing the global refugee situation the meeting heard that refugee situation continues to grow around the world and JRS is expanding its programmme in North Uganda where thousands of South Sudanese refugees have fled the violence of the newest country in the world South Sudan.
It has recommenced its programmes in Tanzania given the thousands of refugees who have crossed the border from Burundi in recent months. It is opening new projects in Mexico to care for the many people on the move from Central America.
John says that all present recognized that the great challenge to our suffering humanity this Christmas is hospitality. While poor countries in Africa and Latin America open their borders to receive people fleeing violence prosperous Europe is building walls and fences to keep people out. People come to our borders and the only thing they bring with them is hope, he added. “Hope to be welcomed, to start again with life, hope for a future for their children. Christmas is indeed a time for sharing hospitality and giving each other new hope especially to those who live in seeming hopeless situations of conflict. With God’s help let us give birth to this new hope this Christmas and New Year”.