1980
November 14


…Struck by the plight of thousands of boat people and refugees, I felt it’s my duty to send cable messages to some 20 Major Superiors [of the Society of Jesus] around the world. Sharing my distress with them, I asked what they in their countries could do to bring at least some relief to such a tragic situation…
Fr Pedro Arrupe
14 November, 1980
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Arrupe, then the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits, noticed the ability for Jesuits around the world to assist in refugee work.

Arrupe thought back to Saint Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus, who took it upon himself to house Italian people forcibly displaced in Rome during the winter of 1538. Because the winter was so harsh, people were forced into the city of Rome to seek assistance, but many died in the streets due to hunger and cold. Ignatius and his first followers gave their beds to those in need and took in 300 people into their home. Arrupe said JRS was following in Ignatius’ footsteps by assisting the poor and displaced.

Since 1980, JRS has been accompanying, serving, and advocating for refugees and displaced people. It has been a road filled with shared sorrow and pain, but also reconciliation and joy.

Unfortunately, the journey is not over after 40 years. In fact, the needs continue to grow, with more than 70 million people forcibly displaced in this world.

Nov. 14, 1980. Birth of Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) as an extension of Social Secretariat SJ Curia.

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