Thursday, December 15, 2005

Forever leaving . . . again.

Yesterday was my last day working at the Windsor Refugee Office. Though I had a very different experience in Windsor than I did at my last refugee gig in San Jose, the feelings I experience in leaving both ministries have been similiar. As I wrote in this May post on my last day at Catholic Charities, saying goodbye to individuals and ministries one has come to love is one of the most difficult and yet most characteristic aspects of Jesuit life. Our vows call us at one and the same time to an availability that includes a willingness to get up and go where we're most needed as well as to a care to people and places that should make moving from one apostolate to another a bittersweet experience. I recognize that as a Jesuit I'll sometimes be called upon to leave some ministries behind in order to being others, but I also expect each move will bring a certain amount of sadness. This is as should be - if you don't miss a place where you feel you made a positive impact, you probably didn't make as much of an impact as you could have.

Leaving the Windsor Refugee Office is sad for me, not simply because I'll miss the people I got to know there but because I know they'll miss me too. I'll miss the coworkers who have become friends, and I'm consoled by the thought that I'll be able to drop in and visit them when I'm back in Detroit in May. (Speaking of which, expect a post soon on Long Experiment.) As sad it is saying goodbye to my coworkers at the WRO, in a sense it's sadder saying goodbye to the refugees, most of whom I'll probably never see again. Having spent a lot of time working one-on-one with individual refugees, getting to know them on a personal level and helping them with small tasks like filling out forms or running errands, I got to see how I could make a positive difference in others' lives, one person at a time. Reflecting the very concrete and tangible ways in which I was able to improve the lives of the refugees I worked with at the WRO, I can also foresee the difference that my absence will make in their lives.

If there's some sadness in the above reflections, there should be some consolation as well. Knowing that I'll be missed by the people I'm leaving behind helps me realize how valuable a contribution I've been able to make to the work of the Windsor Refugee Office. Knowing that I'll be missed by the people I worked with at the WRO offers proof that, as novitiate experiments go, this one was successful. AMDG.


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