Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organisation with a mission to accompany, serve and advocate for the rights of refugees and others who are forcibly displaced.
The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) founded JRS in 1980 in response to the plight of the Vietnamese boat people. The then-Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr Pedro Arrupe, was deeply moved by their suffering and felt compelled to respond.
To this day, JRS continues to support displaced people who undertake life-threatening journeys to seek safety. Drawing inspiration from the Gospel values of justice, compassion and love for the excluded, we understand the term ‘refugee’ to embrace all forcibly displaced people, in line with Catholic social teaching.
One frequent destination of today’s 'boat people' is the European Union (EU), which has surrounded itself with a blockade of restrictive policies and patrols to keep them away.
JRS Europe advocates for the respectful and fair treatment of all migrants affected by European policy, and defends their access to procedures that guarantee the basic rights enshrined in international law. A regional office based in Brussels advocates at European Union level and ensures that policymakers hear refugees’ voices.
The regional office also facilitates a network of JRS offices through common planning and project work. In many countries across Europe, JRS gives direct support to forced migrants and refugees, especially those who are forgotten and in most urgent need. JRS Europe has several projects to assist asylum seekers and other forced migrants in detention as well as community initiatives promoting hospitality and social inclusion.
JRS Europe also works to foster a culture of openness, embodied by hospitality. This is one of our more urgent tasks because hospitality is a value that is being eroded in today’s world where many are so fearful of the 'other'. Writing to JRS on its 30th anniversary, the Jesuit Superior General, Fr Adolfo Nicolás SJ, said: "JRS, in serving refugees, is Gospel hospitality in action; but, perhaps, we can ask how we may, creatively, effectively and positively, influence the closed and unwelcoming values of the cultures in which we work."
- The team
- JRS Europe's structure
The Society of Jesus
The Jesuit Refugee Service is an apostolic work of the Society of Jesus. For more than 460 years Jesuit priests and brothers have served the Church in new and unexpected ways. Men on the move, ready to change residence, occupation, approach – whatever is necessary to advance the Church’s mission: teaching the word of Jesus Christ and preaching his Good News – a radical service of faith in a world that respects neither faith nor the justice it entreats.
Today, Jesuits have enhanced their cooperation to include men and women who share this vision of service to faith and justice. And this exchange has expanded to include dialogue with other religions and cultures. One of the most notable examples of this cooperation is the Jesuit Refugee Service. For more information about the Jesuits in Europe, click here.
Who we are
JRS Europe was established in March 1992. It is an incorporated "International Association" under Belgian law (AISBL no. 452165993), with a Constitution, a General Assembly and a Governing Council. It is recognised as a refugee-assisting NGO by the EU institutions and by several states within Europe and beyond.
JRS Europe is a region of the Jesuit Refugee Service worldwide. In Europe, it is organised as a project of the Conference of European Jesuit Provincials and an inter-provincial apostolic work of the Society of Jesus, covering 20 Jesuit provinces. National coordinators and directors answer to their respective provincials and for certain matters directly to the JRS Europe Regional Director.
The directors of the JRS country offices meet twice annually for regional coordination meetings, which facilitates strategic planning for the region.