JRS works towards a Europe where human rights, protection, hospitality, integration, and reconciliation all have a place to flourish within a larger vision for inclusive and welcoming societies.

Every Jesuit province has a Formation Delegate whose role is to guide each young Jesuit and to propose when and where he will be sent for each step of his formation.

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JRS-Europe Regional Coordination Meeting. On 16-17 November 2021 the bi-annual Regional Coordination Meeting (RCM) took place in Drongen, Belgium. JRS Europe and the Directors from JRS national offices attended to work on common goals to pursue our mission to serve, accompany and advocate refugees and forcibly displaced people in Europe. Following last year’s online RCM, all participants welcome the occasion to meet in person, in full respect of Covid safety rules. “For the national directors and JRS Europe staff, the RCM is a very important time both to meet each other and to move forward on common projects. It’s a time for planning and evaluating shared programmes and activities, but it’s also a moment to share a common vision.  Our approach is based on the experience of the refugees and displaced people with whom we walk, accompanied by the work carried out by our professionals and volunteers,” said  JRS Europe director Alberto Ares. New strategic framework for JRS-Europe Key point on the agenda was the drafting of a new Strategic Framework for the region for 2022-2024. Based on feedback on the previous framework, JRS Europe and country Directors had the chance to discuss the programmatic areas and work together to develop a coordinated strategy for the future, to effectively fulfil common goals. The discussion also covered new challenges presented by the pandemic and best practises. “We agreed on the main lines of the Strategic Framework, the paths we want to walk together in the coming years. JRS Europe works towards a Europe where human rights, protection, hospitality, integration, and reconciliation all have a place to flourish within a larger vision for inclusive and welcoming societies. In every RCM we find time to celebrate and commemorate the people we serve,” said JRS Europe director Alberto Ares JRS Europe also provided an update on the activities done at European level, including projects, funding, advocacy and communication. Fundraising Coordinator Christopher Klotz showed a breakdown of current and pending funding from JRS donors. In terms of projects, JRS Europe is currently running several activities, including the Oak Foundation sponsored ‘Monitoring Detention’ and the school programme for awareness raising ‘Change’, and more will come next year. Advocacy and Policy Coordinator Claudia Bonamini shared the latest updates on EU migration policies, which JRS Europe is involved in through advocacy efforts on the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum and participation in Frontex Consultative Forum. All country Directors also had the opportunity to present the current context and activities in their countries. The presentations showed the diversity of JRS activities across Europe, always based on true understanding of local needs and ranging from detention monitoring, reception and psychosocial support, language learning, and more. The two days allowed participants to reconnect with the network, to strengthen capacity across countries, share best practises and make use of each other’s support and capabilities. “The most important thing of all was to meet again, to share our lights and shadows in this common work we all carry together, through the people we accompany, serve and advocate … to keep hope alive.” concluded JRS Europe director Alberto Ares.
... and reception of asylum seekers in Covid-19 times. ‘Stories from immigration detention and reception of asylum seekers in Covid-19 times’ presents the findings and recommendations of JRS Europe’s reports on the impact on Covid-19 on immigration detention and asylum reception through first-hand accounts from forced migrants who lived through these situations, as well as JRS staff members and volunteers who listened to the testimonies. The collection of factsheets lays out the facts in a format that is easy to read and digest, can be used to quickly inform someone of the reality of homelessness and destitution caused by improper reception policies, or the toll isolation is taking on migrants in detention centres. The reports and the fact-sheets are the results of the work of JRS Europe and its partners in nine countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Spain) within the framework of the project ‘Learning from Covid-19 Pandemic for a more protective Common European Asylum System’. Download the stories
Alberto Ares SJ, from the Province of Spain, has been appointed as the new Director of JRS Europe. Alberto will take over his new position in September 2021, succeeding José Ignacio García SJ, who holds that office since the beginning of 2017. Alberto was born in a small village in the north of Spain, Veguellina de Órbigo. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1997, was ordained in 2007 and took final vows in 2014. He has a Ph.D. in International Migration and Development Cooperation from the Universidad Pontificia Comillas. He studied and obtained degrees in Social Ethics at Boston College, Theology in Comillas and Economics and Business Administration at the University of Valladolid. Much of his time as a Jesuit has been spent accompanying and studying migration and migrants. His work has taken him all over the world, from the United States to Brazil, Mexico to Morocco, Spain to India and El Salvador to Albania. He has been also the Social Apostolate Delegate for the Jesuits in Spain. He is currently the Director of the University Institute for Migration Studies at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas and Deputy Coordinator of the Jesuit Migrant Service in Spain, until September 2021. Alberto is also passionate about Ignatian spirituality and pastoral work with migrant communities and young people. He collaborates in two of the parishes that the Jesuits serve in Ventilla neighborhood, Madrid; and as part of that collaboration, he accompanies the Ecuadorian community "La Virgen del Quinche". He has been living in a community of hospitality. In his Jesuit community, they welcome and share life with young migrants and refugees in their process of autonomy. At the same time, the community tries to be a place of welcome for collaborators in the mission or for those who are in the process of vocational discernment. José Ignacio García SJ, whom Alberto Ares will replace, will be from September the new director of the Cristianisme i Justícia study center (Barcelona): https://www.cristianismeijusticia.net/es  
Since 2014, the Austrian Intercultural Achievement Award (IAA) has been awarded annually to innovative projects that successfully open up new avenues for intercultural dialogue. The aim is to highlight and encourage small or large-scale actions implemented throughout the world by associations or individuals to encourage dialogue between cultures and religions. Among the 300 projects submitted in 2020 through the network of Austrian embassies, the association JRS France is the winner of the Intercultural Achievement Award 2020 in the category of Sustainable Project. The JRS Youth programme - "The challenge of reciprocity: Share your talents, dare to meet! "caught the attention of the jury. This programme allows young (or not so young) asylum seekers, refugees or locals to meet and get to know each other around common and creative activities that they co-facilitate on an equal footing. The members are in turn participants or facilitators, and thus actors in a programme that they build together. Expression (theatre, dance, singing, drawing, writing), sports (football, volleyball, basketball, yoga, dance), discussion cafés, inter-religious meetings, outings to be experienced together (hikes, dinners at local homes, visits to museums, urban walks, board games) are all activities that promote and cement mutual understanding. A variety of activities in an intercultural environment In 2020, the JRS Jeunes programme organised 468 activities in 9 cities in France, involving 1338 participants of 60 different nationalities, including 740 refugees and asylum seekers. The grant given by the Republic of Austria to JRS France will be used to finance and carry out future collective and interdisciplinary actions in the framework of this intercultural project. The Austrian Ambassador Michael Linhart presented Fr Antoine Paumard, Director of JRS France, and Ms Pauline Blain, JRS Youth Officer, with the IAA 2020 Award at a small ceremony on 10 February 2021. More info: 
In From Bad to Worse: Covid-19 Aggravates Existing Gaps in the Reception of Asylum Seekers, JRS Europe presents the findings and lessons learned from a mapping on the impact of Covid-19 on the reception of asylum seekers in nine EU countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Romania, Portugal, Spain). The report criticises bad practices, highlights a few positives, and gives recommendations to national authorities and the EU institutions on what to do during and beyond the pandemic. Download the report here.
Lessons (Not) Learned. In Covid-19 and Immigration Detention: Lessons (Not) Learned, JRS Europe presents the findings and lessons learned from a mapping on the impact of Covid-19 on administrative detention in seven EU countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, Malta, Romania, Portugal, Spain). The report criticizes bad practices, highlights a few positive decisions at national level, and gives recommendations to national authorities and the EU institutions on what to do during and beyond the pandemic. Download the report