Monday, June 23, 2014

A Canterbury Tale

Ciao! It has certainly been a whirlwind couple of weeks here in Rome. Friends coming and going, high-ranking church officials visiting, receptions upon receptions upon receptions, and cap it all off: World Refugee Day! I've definitely not been as diligent about my blogging as I was last year, but you'll have to understand that it is wonderfully (and crazily) busy here. Where shall I start? Hmmm...

A few months back, Matthew Davies from the Episcopal News Service visited Rome to film a short piece about my time with YASC and the JNRC. Matthew has been traveling to many of the YASC placements this year and has created wonderful snapshots of the beautifully varying aspects of our shared YASC ministry. Mine has just been released! Take a look below, and make sure to visit the ENS website above to find more of the YASC videos.

Thanks to Matthew and everyone at ENS for supporting the work of the JNRC!

Archbishop Justin Welby
Shortly after Matthew filmed that video, we got word that the Archbishop of Canterbury would be making a visit to Rome. After weeks of planning, Archbishop Justin arrived last Sunday for a whirlwind tour of the city. The Archbishop's visit was to support the work of the Global Freedom Network. If you are not familiar with the Global Freedom Network, I encourage you to check out their website here. Basically, this organization is a major undertaking of both the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Communion to fight human trafficking and forced slavery. Human trafficking rates are rising, and we are facing a global crisis. A good example of this is the Boko Haram kidnapping of the Nigerian girls that has been in the news recently. This is unfortunately only the tip of the iceberg. Many of the guests in our center have been victims of human trafficking, and the stories are just horrible.

The Global Freedom Network is one of the first major mission collaborations between the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Communion. Even though we may disagree on many theological issues, we can all support this work to end the horrors of human trafficking and modern slavery. Ecumenism in action. Part of Archbishop Justin's visit to Rome was a visit to the JNRC. He came to see the center, but specifically to meet one-on-one of with one of our guests who had been a victim of human trafficking.

Maiga and the Archbishop
The Archbishop met with Maiga, one of our JNRC Artisans. We work very hard in the JNRC to make sure that the stories of our guests are well protected. We often get people who want to come in, with no mal-intent, simply to hear a sad story. While I believe that the stories our guests tell do indeed have transformative properties for those who hear them, we have to make sure they they are received in the most sensitive way possible. It is very difficult and extremely unhealthy for our guests to constantly relive their hardships over and over again to any one who asks, so we try and protect our guests from situations where their psychological health is put at risk. We never want our guests to feel like their story is being publicized for the benefit of the JNRC. This was not the case with the Archbishop. I spoke with Maiga after his talk with Archbishop Justin and he was deeply moved by the conversation, and I know that the Archbishop was equally as moved by Maiga's journey of overcoming some truly terrible hardships in his life.

The St. Paul's Crew

Packing Lunches
You would think that after such a big visit by the Archbishop we would get some time off to relax and recharge. You would be wrong. World Refugee Day was calling us! World Refugee Day falls every year on June 20th. It is a time to honor the struggles that refugees face everyday in their journey for freedom and peace. It is also a time to celebrate the many organizations and ministries that work with refugee populations in their respective communities. This year we celebrated in the JNRC with a special lunch for our guests. We also had nearly 50 volunteers come out to help make the atmosphere in the center fun and festive.

World Refugee Day

The larger St. Paul's community celebrated World Refugee Day this past sunday with a special liturgy for migrants and refugees. Archbishop David Moxon, the Archbishop of Canterbury's representative to the Vatican, preached a powerful sermon on biblical stories of people seeking refuge. We also celebrated the end of our shoe drive for the JNRC. The St. Paul's community raised nearly $450 to buy shoes for the center, on top of 15 pairs of shoes that were donated on Sunday as well. Thanks for everyones support in this!

Celebration After the Service

That's all for now!

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