Around the table

June 14th, 2014

Around the table

How many people can you fit around one table? At JRS-UK in Wapping one day last week had 20 people sat around our lunch table. This is one of my favourite things about JRS at the Hurtado Jesuit Centre – we eat together every weekday. Each day, whoever is at the office or community centre sits down together. And then we clear up, wash up and tidy up. It is an important time in our working day and there is usually laughter and news to catch up on.

Mostly we have simple food: bread, cheese, cold meats, houmous, salad and a piece of fruit each. Sometimes if it is someone’s birthday, we share cake. Other times if we have had an event the day before there is leftover pasta or a pudding to eat up. If we are few, we always set an extra place for a late comer or a guest arriving in time for an appointment or meeting. Some days, one of our refugee friends comes to have their only meal for the day. On other days, visitors are caught up in the hubbub of chatting together.

We share stories, we try to learn each others languages and talk very little about work. It is a special time to deepen our relationships, appreciate each others’ culture and feel like a community together. It helps us see people outside of their roles and learn different perspectives in an open and relaxed way. Today we were from 15 countries from across 4 continents: interns, refugee friends, Jesuits, volunteers, members of staff… each one welcome in their own right and appreciated for who they are.

By Kate Monkhouse, Centre Manager, Hurtado Jesuit Centre. This post also appeared at