As he stepped onto a plane for Beirut on the feast of the Epiphany, Gerry Clarke was doing what is listed as his job: Rapid Response in the Jesuit Refugee Service. His initial stay in the Lebanese capital will be for three months, and his focus of course is the tortured land of Syria.
His boss in the International JRS has instructed him to give maximum support to, and make it easier for, the heroic Jesuits who are running the JRS in Aleppo, Hunt and Damascus. From the neighbouring country he will try to do what is not possible for the Jesuits in Syria. If they are stumped by a problem, they will ring Gerry, and his response – as his chief told him – must be: Don’t worry, leave it to me.
Gerry will be centred in Beirut, in the JRS regional office. He will live in a flat complex which houses, on a lower floor, former Jesuit-General Kolvenbach. Gerry is up on the 8th floor with the scholastics. He will liaise with the Jesuits in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey who are working with refugees, as well as the remarkable group in Syria itself, who are at the service of refugees of every race and religion. Here are two good websites: www.syriadeeply.org and www.jrs.net. IJN will keep readers posted on developments there.