In Kathmandu, the Jesuits’ commitment to social apostolate is carried out especially by one work: St. Xavier’s Social Service Centre. Father Sosa, during his visit to Nepal, stopped at the headquarters of this organization and spoke to all those, young people and adults, who are dedicated to improving the living conditions of the Nepalese people in need.
I feel very happy to be with you at St. Xavier’s Social Service Centre, an abode of service, witnessing to the best values of the people of Nepal, and of course, of Christian Charity. I remember with gratitude the Jesuits and their collaborators who have sacrificed their lives for this country. I remember with gratitude the services of Fr. Tom Gaffney, who became a martyr for charity. May his memory and model inspire us to serve the youth and all those in need, more fervently.
The world today is experiencing unprecedented crises, or, as someone put it, ‘griefs’: Climate grief, Democracy grief, Moral grief, Grief of the displaced. The sad part of it is that most of them are man-made.
Look at Nepal. It is a land blessed with unimaginable beauty, but hiding a sinister underbelly. Two out of three families in this noble land live on less than three dollars a day and the children and women of these families will be the most vulnerable. This creates a vicious circle of never ending poverty and deprivation. I am sad to note that Nepal still accounts for 1.6 million children in child labour and that almost 60 per cent of them are girls working in hazardous environments.
Twelve years of civil war, I understand, has left as many as 10,000 children orphans and more than 100,000 children displaced. The devastating earthquake of April 2015 has left as many as 9,000 people dead, again leaving many more children disabled and orphaned.
What is the role of the Society of Jesus and the Social Service Centre in this context?
Our collaborators and we, Jesuits, are called to serve at the frontiers. From the time of our founder Father Ignatius, almost five centuries ago, the first Jesuits left their own homes for missions all over the world. Pope Francis reminded us of it again, when he said, ‘your proper place is on the frontiers’. We know that frontiers are found in many forms: geographic, interreligious, educational and social justice.
Mahatma Gandhi said it years ago, ‘The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed’.
Pope Francis said recently, ‘We go our way in haste, without worrying that gaps are increasing, that the greed of a few is adding to the poverty of many others’.
This is where we Jesuits and you, our collaborators, should commit ourselves to walk with the poor.
Allow me to caution and remind you, that the path we seek to walk with the poor should be one that promotes social justice and the change of economic, political and social structures that generate injustice. This path, we believe, is an essential dimension for the reconciliation of individuals and peoples. You are already on the path of walking with the poor. While I congratulate you for all that you have done and are doing, I also urge you to move on relentlessly, until Justice and Reconciliation is achieved for all. (...)
Let us join our hands to witness to a faith that promotes reconciliation based on justice, peace and equality. May the Reign of a loving God become an experiential reality for every human being. It is indeed a utopia, a big dream. However, what is life without big dreams?