“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’.” -Matthew 25:40
Today, June 20, 2018 is the UN deemed World Refugee Day.
The verb, to seek refuge is commonly defined as “a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.” Therefore, a refugee is a person who is seeking just that, shelter from danger or trouble. Often times war, government, and political backlash are what cause these people to flee their beloved homes for a safer space to live. What is most important to keep in mind about refugees is that they are not fleeing out of voluntary choice but instead from immediate necessity from danger and/or violence.
We are fortunate here at Maria College to be located in Albany, New York. However, to put it into perspective in terms of numbers, if we did have to leave Albany County and become refugees the entire county would be deserted and abandoned in 10 days.
Every day 34,000 people are forced to flee their homes with a total of 65.3 million people displaced currently. This is the highest number of refugees globally ever recorded. Once a refugee reaches safety however, 86% of them continue to face challenges such as being able to afford basic needs of food, water, access to health care and more.
The Sisters of Mercy’s Critical Concerns, which include care of the Earth, non-violence, women, and immigration, call us to reflect and act where we can. Most refugee situations reflect at least three or four of these concerns.
At Maria College we strive to treat everyone with respect and dignity, just as we would our friends and family.
I invite you into a quiet moment of reflection. Turn off the radio while you drive or step outside for 5 deep breaths in the sunshine. Find peace where ever you are. Take time to reflect on the fact that we are all one people. It is essential we find peace and mercy within ourselves in order to ease the burden of those who are in much worse situations. Their burden is so great, and they will likely never return home, but instead of being consumed by their situation they must press forward for a better future and we can do the same by finding the space in ourselves to help.
Jillian Mertzlufft MPH
Chair of the Mercy and Justice Committee