January 15th, 2014
A group of us from the Hurtado Jesuit Centre and Jesuit Refugee Service joined other Catholics engaged in community service or leadership our local borough at Bishop Challoner School to meet the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, see the school and share a meal together.
The Catholic Dean, Reverend Michael Dunne, spoke about the history of Catholic service in education and social care, starting with the initiative by nuns to offer free school meals to pupils in the 19th Century. The Mayor spoke about this kind of contribution, historically and today, being a “hidden gem” in the life of this part of London that is great because of its diversity. He also spoke of Tower Hamlets being great because it has offered over many generations a welcome to people coming from across the globe for a better chance in life, a theme that resonates with those of us connected with JRS’s work with asylum seekers. The Head Teacher of Bishop Challoner School talked about their mission of service to others and the small – but significant – contribution they, together with parishes and charities, make to the wider community as a whole.
It was good to meet pupils and teachers, as well as local parish priests, university chaplains, sisters in religious life and charity workers who work alongside those from other traditions of faith and community engagement. One aspect of our mission at the Hurtado Jesuit Centre is to be a community of solidarity with people from all walks of life. Being together at the school with all generations, young and old, talking about the history and future of service to others in our community was a great conversation to have at the start of a new year.