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Edition No. 569 | 18 June 2014
'There is Room at the Table for Everyone'
Editor: This Friday is World Refugee Day. Most of the 2 million new refugees in 2013 were forced into exile as a result of the violence in Syria, but others—such as this woman waiting here— fled fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); still others fled the Central African Republic (CAR), Sudan, Mali and Somalia. Then there were the internally displaced...
Across the globe, Sisters of Mercy and their Partners-in-ministry work together to affirm dignity, create opportunity and ensure a future full of hope for those living on the margins: immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, trafficked persons, the exploited and the oppressed.
In this issue of Mercy E-news we share just some of the stories where Mercy's welcome shows 'there is room at the table for everyone' (Carrie Newcomer)
Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA
Image: UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti. Used with permission.
Since 4 April 2014 more than 130,000 nationals of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been expelled from the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville). The expulsions have created an acute humanitarian crisis and there are allegations of human rights abuses, according to UN officials. Several thousands of the expelled are currently gathered at the Maluku transit camp, on the outskirts of the city of Kinshasa.
Within a few years of its founding in 1994, Mercy International Association (MIA) established an office at United Nations headquarters in New York to amplify the voices of its country-level work and to contribute to advocacy in a UN setting. In 1988 the American Mercy Federation had received Department of Public Information (DPI) status at the UN; ten years later, in 1998, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas successfully gained Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC.
Messages to: Denise Boyle fmdm
Reflecting on our UN Experiences
In this issue two of the previous office holders at the United Nations on behalf of MIA, Dale Jarvis rsm (Americas) and Deirdre Mullan rsm (The Congregation), share their reflections on their experiences .
Read Sr Dale'sreflection on her term at MIA's UN Office (1998-2001)
Read Sr Deirdre's reflection on her term at MIA's UN Office (2001-2011)
Dale Jarvis rsm
Deirdre Mullan rsm
Image: L-r: Srs Deirdre Mullan and Denise Lyttle (Americas) in NY for the 'Bridging the Gap' event (2005), in conversation with a faith leader at the UN
On Thursday 5 June, seven members of the Working Group on Opposing Human Trafficking linked up across the world to discuss our important ministry. Despite our diverse efforts to combat Human Trafficking, common threads emerged that included the importance of networking; collaborative efforts, legislative advocacy and resource sharing efforts.
On Friday 6 June, nine members of the Working Group on Cosmology and Environment linked up from around the world for a discussion on our ministry in this area. Summary reports circulated prior to the meeting reflected the broad, eclectic range of responses to environmental issues at local and national level.
The complete report is linked to this item
Messages to: Denise Boyle fmdm - Assistant Director Mercy Global Action
MIA Prayer Intention for the Coming Week
Developing countries currently provide the protection space for four out of five refugees worldwide, up from 70 per cent a decade ago (UNHCR).
Let us pray for generous hearts - in ourselves, our communities, our own countries- that we peoples of the First World will open our doors to the world's refugees and asylum seekers.
Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA
I have been in Florida with the migrant farmworkers since 1984. The people are who sustain me. Their faith and loving care gives me the energy to wake up to each new day knowing that I am where I need to be. Besides the long days at the office there is time to be with the people when they are celebrating. They are family to me as I am to them. The families take the relationship of godmother seriously and I’m fortunate to be godmother to many of the children, some now parents themselves. It is with this community that I continue to know the depths of God.
Messages to: Alicia Zapata rsm
Editor: On 10 June Sr Alicia joined a group of more than 100 immigration advocates from across the US to call on House Republicans to move immigration reform to a vote. Read the report of that advocacy effort here
My experience at Doras Luimní, established in 2000 in Limerick, has led me to meet many refugees in Ireland and particularly in Limerick City and county. DORAS - Development Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers - was founded by the Limerick Mercy Justice group to support people who come to Ireland seeking asylum. It was established to act as a support to asylum seekers as decisions from the Department of Justice on their asylum applications were awaited. Many of the first asylum seekers who have been successful with their applications have been joined by their immediate families, have become Irish Citizens and are integrating into Irish life. Doras Luimní has played a strong role in their journey and has been inspired by the courage, strength and determination which brought them to Ireland and has brought a richness that no money can buy...
Messages to: Ella Noonan rsm
Editor: Doras Luimni is this week's featured Mercy website
Five years ago, the first dedicated Refugee Maternity Service in Australia was established at Mater Mothers Hospital, Brisbane.
Developed to provide specialised care to birthing refugee women at Mater, the service comprises female health practitioners and interpreters who provide care to women from more than 34 countries. More than a 1000 women of refugee background have been cared for at the Mater since this specialised service was established in 2008.
Messages to: Madonna McGahan - Executive Director Mission Leadership
In 2003 Mamre House at St Marys in outer Western Sydney was invited to join a coalition of partners to provide vital services to newly arrived Southern Sudanese refugee families. This year marks the tenth anniversary of a new era of Mercy given and received, when refugees not only from South Sudan, but also Burma, Bhutan and other African nations find themselves in a welcoming, empowering community.
Messages to: Mary-Louise Petro rsm - Congregation Leadership Team
'All I knew at the time was that this was where God wanted me to be' (ISMAPNG)
The plight of asylum seekers both across the world and particularly here in Australia has tugged at my heart-strings for a long time. So much so, that I simply had to volunteer to go to one of the detention centres, to find out
something of the truth of what is happening, and to try to make a small contribution to alleviate the situation...
When I made my decision and was accepted, I was very grateful for the support and advice of the Jesuit co-ordinator in Sydney and of two of our Queensland Sisters who had ministered in Curtin before me.They were simply a marvellous help. However, I still left Townsville in mid-February with some feelings of fear and certainly not knowing what to expect. All I knew at the time was that this was where God wanted me to be.
Download Sr Carmel's reflection here (PDF)
Messages to: Carmel Ruddick rsm
For the past three years, I have spent a total of 5 months as a pastoral care worker for Jesuit Refugee Service at the Curtin Detention Centre for asylum seekers in remote northern Western Australia. I have also visited or volunteered in detention centres in Darwin, Port Augusta, Sydney and Melbourne. In the community, I connect with many refugees and asylum seekers who often struggle with multiple issues such as mental health, jobseeking and connections with family in their home countries. In the course of my work I use poetry to help digest the situations I encounter. I also use poems to provide a voice in English for the stories I hear, to humanise the people from the boats.
Linked to this item is a sample of creative work from myself and— with their permission— from some of the asylum seekers I have known.
Messages to: Elizabeth Young rsm
For students adjusting to a new language, different social rules and educational practices, school can be a daunting place. The Mercy Works Mercy Connect Project recruits, trains and supports volunteers to assist refugee school students and their families settle in Australia. These dedicated mentors give one to two days a week of their time to encourage and support students in their schooling. They also help the students build relationships and develop self-confidence. Here is one story, Kau's story...
Messages to: Margaret Coulter - Mercy Works Development Officer
As a volunteer with Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) UKin both the day centre and as a detention visitor and pen be-friender I have been amazed by the generosity, hope, faith and courage of the people I have accompanied. It has been great to share their joy if they have been granted leave to remain, or been released from detention but it can also be painful when detainees are deported. It can be hard knowing that you cannot change the situation for many of the asylum seekers but as a Sister of Mercy I am inspired by the words of Catherine McAuley: 'There are things that the poor prize more highly than gold..among these are the kind word, the gentle, compassionate look and the patient hearing of their sorrows'
Having the opportunity to be that "listening ear" and recognizing the dignity and worth of each person is a huge privilege.
Messages to: Geraldine Sweeney rsm
Doras Luimní is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation working to support and promote the rights of all migrants living in Limerick and the wider Mid-West region.
Opening in a small village in West Somalia, the first decision to make is, whose path will you follow, Hani or Samaan? Their home and village has been destroyed and they are on the run. 'And then I was a Refugee'… asks you to make choices throughout your journey such as "join the rebels to stay alive" or "steal water from a village", en route to refugee camps in Kenya and Malta.
Available for free download on iTunes and Google Play.
'...Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more...A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world...'
Pope Francis: Migrants and Refugees: Towards a Better World
Message for the 100th World Day of Migrants and Refugees 19 January, 2014
1849: Foundation to Cheadle, Staffordshire, England from Carlow.
Submit your dates online here
Editor: We now have an event for 11 June. Thank you to Barbara Jeffrey rsm GB Institute
MIA at the UN Publications
Download the MIA at the UN publications in pdf:
-Mercy Global Concern – Leaven for Good in a Hurting World
-Meeting the Global Citizen in You (2010)
-Water is Free Beverage (2009)
-Where in the World are my Sisters?
-Mercy the Language of the Heart
-The Many Faces of Mercy
-A Rights-Based Approach to Resource Extraction in the Pursuit of Sustainable Development Advocacy Brief (2014)
'It is for God we serve the poor, and not for thanks'
-Catherine McAuley, Familiar Instructions, p 140
Some Additional Useful Resources for World Refugee Day
'Trauma inspires theatrical creativity for recent refugees'
Meet a student theatre group with a difference where the stars are all recently arrived refugees, each dealing with past traumas and the challenges of finding a new life in Australia. Watch the video here (06:27) Tree of Life Theatre is worth supporting (Facebook page)
UNHCR has a video channel on YouTube with a number of current clips which could be used as part of a reflection, prayer or information session. Check out the video playlist here
'Room at the Table' by Carrie Newcomer (see above Feature article). 'Let our hearts not be hardened to those living on the margins...' Great lyrics which are provided as part of the creative and catchy video clip. Play it here (03:57). Purchase it here
'All God's Beggars' - A Refugee Ballad sung by Kavisha Mazzella, co-written by Singer Songwriter Kavisha Mazella and Story-teller, Author and Human Rights Advocate, Arnold Zable
Play it here (05:39) Purchase it here
2014 Refugee Week Resource Kit. Produced for Refugee Week in Australia (15-21 June), this kit , created around the theme Restoring Hope, contains a wealth of material which has widespread application, including background on refugees, stories, current statistics and lesson plans. Download the kit here (33 pps; PDF)
Monica Cavanagh rsj, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, addressed the issue of Pope Francis seeking the Wisdom of Women in her presentation at the Broken Bay eConference on 11 June. In her wide-ranging and challenging address, Sr Monica expressed her hopes for a future Church where 'women's gifts, skills and expertise will be used to bring about a more transparent, accountable and compassionate church' Watch it here (30:00).
Send suggestions and contributions for the 'Worth...' section to: the Editor
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Directors: Sister Denise Fox (ANZ), Sister Patricia McDermott (US), Ron Ashworth (US), Peter Burnett (GB), Sister Colette Cronin (GB), Mary Moorhead (IRL), Kevin Hoy (IRL), Sister Margaret Casey (IRL), Sister Scholasticah Nganda (IRL)