“God is with us”

– Matthew 1:23

Dear Friend,

As I write this letter, Fr Stan Swamy SJ, an 83 year old Jesuit in poor health is languishing in jail in India on false charges. There has been an international outcry against his arbitrary arrest from religious and political leaders, civil society organizations and concerned individuals. Most significantly, thousands of poor marginalized people, especially adivasis (Indigenous people), have filled the streets demanding his immediate release and that of other human rights activists arrested with him. Fr Stan has worked tirelessly for five decades to defend their rights. He has shown them that God has not abandoned them. God is with them.

Beneficiaries of COVID-19 relief operations in Rumbek, South Sudan, supported by CJI and the Xavier Network.
Photo: Augostine Ekeno SJ

God is with us too, though many of us may feel lost as COVID-19 tests us in unimaginable ways: some have lost loved ones without saying goodbye, others have no source of income and they hear their children cry out of hunger, others are living in the streets with nowhere to go.

At Canadian Jesuits International (CJI), we hear from our Jesuit partners how the poorest people in Asia, Latin America and Africa are being affected by the pandemic. They have few resources to deal with it: overwhelmed health care facilities, overcrowded housing, no safety net to cover unemployment, schools are closed with no option for online education. It is estimated that millions of children, especially girls, will never return to school.

God is with us, in the midst of such despair. God is present when the Jesuit Migration Service or the members of Lok Manch offer meals to migrants stuck in their journey with nowhere to go; when the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) provides schooling to forcibly displaced people; or when children in South Sudan, who depend on going to school to receive a meal, still get nourishment at a Jesuit run school.

God is present in people like Fr Stan who are willing to stand up and defend the rights of people in countries like India, Honduras, Colombia or South Sudan. Jesuits and lay people work at great risk. A number of them have contracted COVID-19; some have lost loved ones; others have been arrested. Their action and commitment show us that God is with us.

God is present through your generosity. This Christmas we ask you to show the most marginalized people in the world that God has not abandoned them. This crisis is an opportunity for us to address inequalities in the world, especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Thanks to your help, CJI has supported thousands of people through Jesuit initiatives in response to the COVID-19 emergency. This Christmas, we highlight four of these initiatives that give witness to God’s presence. We ask you to support them through our COVID-19 Christmas appeal.

  • The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Barrancabermeja, Colombia supports forcibly displaced people, especially women who struggle to adjust to their new environment and often face the threat of violence in the area. CJI has made a commitment of $45,000 to this project, which has a yearly budget of $90,000.
  • The Jesuits in Darjeeling, India through the Human Life Development and Research Centre (HLDRC) are helping vulnerable workers and their families gain self-sufficiency through alternative livelihoods and community empowerment. CJI supports HLDRC and has made a commitment of $33,000 to this project, which has a yearly budget of $40,000.
  • Jesu Ashram supports poor and marginalized people suffering from tuberculosis, leprosy, HIV/AIDS, and now, COVID-19. It is a place for physical and spiritual healing. CJI supports Jesu Ashram and has made a commitment of $100,000 to this project, which has a yearly budget of $200,000.
  • Through the project, Sowing seeds of transformation, the Jesuit Eastern Africa Province (AOR) in South Sudan develops sustainable livelihoods through education and psycho-social support; builds capacity for peace and advocacy; and strengthens community-based organizations. CJI supports AOR in South Sudan and has made a commitment of $100,000 to this project, which has a yearly budget of $400,000.

The men and women involved in this work show marginalized people that God has not abandoned them. We ask you this Christmas to support them with a generous donation. By so doing, you show them that God has not abandoned us. Immanuel, God is with us!

Have a peaceful and holy Christmas! And may God be with you.

Jenny Cafiso
Director

Banner photo: Children who have no access to online learning resources attend class at the HLDRC Study Centre. Credit: Pascal Xalxo SJ.

FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

29 November 2020

“When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.”
– Isaiah 64:3

INDIA – JESU ASHRAM


Nurses at Jesu Ashram undergo COVID-19 prevention and control training.
Photo: Julius Kujur SJ

God is present among the people of Jesu Ashram. This health care facility supports poor and marginalized people suffering from tuberculosis, leprosy, HIV/AIDS, and now, COVID-19. It is a place for physical, emotional and spiritual healing. Jesu Ashram also trains young women from poor families who then find employment in healthcare facilities. CJI supports Jesu Ashram as they walk with the most excluded people among us and in so doing show that God is with us.

SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT

6 December 2020

“God will feed the flock like a shepherd and they will be carried in God’s bosom.”
– Isaiah 40:11

SOUTH SUDAN – SOWING SEEDS OF TRANSFORMATION


A woman tills the land at the Multi Agricultural Jesuit Institute of South Sudan (MAJIS).
Photo: Augostine Ekeno SJ

South Sudan has long suffered from war and violence. Many of its people have been forcibly displaced, however, God has not forgotten them. The initiatives of the Jesuits’ Eastern Africa Province (AOR) develop sustainable livelihoods for local communities through holistic education and psycho-social support; build capacity for peace and advocacy; and strengthen community-based organizations. CJI supports the work of AOR with marginalized communities in South Sudan. They have a special place in God’s bosom. God is with them

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

13 December 2020

“God has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed and to release the imprisoned.”
– Isaiah 61:2

INDIA – HUMAN LIFE DEVELOPMENT AND RESEARCH CENTRE


Women from Hathi line, Bamandanga Tea Estate pluck tea leaves after the lockdown in India.
Photo: Pascal Xalxo SJ

The Jesuits in Darjeeling, India, work to address the injustices faced by labourers on tea plantations. They help vulnerable workers and their families gain self-sufficiency through capacity building workshops, leadership training, alternative livelihood support and community empowerment. CJI supports HLDRC, our Jesuit partners in Darjeeling, as they follow Jesus’s command to bring good news to the oppressed and release the imprisoned. God is with the tea estate labourers.

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

20 December 2020

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God”
– Luke 1:30

COLOMBIA – SUPPORT FOR DISPLACED PEOPLE


Participants at a training session for community participation and citizen oversight held last June 2019.
Photo: JRS Colombia

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Barrancabermeja, Colombia supports forcibly displaced people, especially
women who struggle to adjust to their new environment and face the threat of violence. Just like the angel of the Lord told Mary not to be afraid, JRS is supporting women in Barrancabermeja by building leadership and support networks for them and strengthening their relationship with the host population. CJI supports the work of JRS as they help contribute to the peace and reconciliation process in the region.

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