Josephite Justice Network members at Parliament House.

On 20 June, the world pauses to reflect on the lives of millions of refugees who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution, and disasters. World Refugee Day is not only a time to acknowledge their suffering and resilience but also a call to embody the Gospel values of love, compassion, and justice that lie at the heart of our Christian faith.

The statistics are staggering. Over 100 million people worldwide are currently displaced, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugess (UNHCR). Of these, nearly 35 million are refugees who have crossed international borders seeking sanctuary. Behind these staggering numbers are real people – children, mothers, fathers, and the elderly – each with a story of loss and a yearning for safety. In refugee camps and settlements, life is a daily struggle. Necessities such as food, clean water, and medical care are often scarce. Education for children is disrupted, and many face the trauma of separation from family members.

As Josephites, we have listened to the need of those seeking asylum and refuge and Australia. We have been moved by their stories and have been compelled to support them in their fight for justice and recognition. In November 2023, the Josephite Justice Network pledged their support for a Royal Commission into Immigration Detention. Attending the campaign was only the beginning of our advocacy journey in raising awareness about the silenced voices seeking safety on Australian shores.

In Matthew 25:35-36, Jesus says: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me”. These words challenge us to see Christ in every refugee, to recognise their dignity, and to respond with love and compassion.

World Refugee Day is a call to action for individuals, communities, and nations. It is a reminder that we are all part of one human family and that the suffering of refugees is our concern. Living out Gospel values means advocating for policies that protect and support refugees, volunteering our time, and offering financial resources to organisations that provide vital assistance.

As we observe World Refugee Day, let us be moved by the stories of those who have lost everything yet remain hopeful. Let us be inspired to live out the Gospel values in our daily lives, responding to the refugee crisis with the compassion, love, and justice that Jesus taught us.

In the words of Pope Francis, “We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected, and loved”. This World Refugee Day may our hearts be open to the plight of refugees, and may our actions reflect the Gospel’s call to be a light in the darkness, offering hope and healing to those in desperate need.

Emilia Nicholas
Josephite Justice Network