01 December 2016
|"You know that night is gone and day is here when you can look into the eyes of the total stranger and see the eyes of a brother or sister."|
Washington DC, 1 December 2016 - Fr. Kenneth J. Gavin SJ, Assistant International Director, will be honoured with the Grace Kobbe Tevis Award for Extraordinary Service at a special event in New York today.
Fr. Gavin has dedicated the past decade of his life to helping refugees and displaced people worldwide. He served as Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA for seven years before being appointed to the JRS headquarters in Rome in 2011.
During his time with JRS, Fr. Gavin travelled widely to accompany refugees, and his distinguished service around accompaniment, reconciliation, and staff care have strengthened JRS programs globally.
He worked to advance advocacy outreach on many international issues, such as increasing U.S. State Department assistance to Colombian refugees, advocating for the resettlement of Bhutanese refugees, and flagging protection concerns of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. Before coming to JRS he had extensive international experience with Jesuit ministries.
Fr. Gavin, who was ordained a priest in 1975, earned a PhD in speech-language pathology at Northwestern University and taught for almost a decade at Marquette University. Later, in 1992, he began a four-year term as president of Regis High School in New York City and then served for six years as the Provincial of the New York Province of the Society of Jesus.
About the Award
Grace Kobbe Tevis was a philanthropist with a special interest in Catholic organizations. She was a loyal supporter of Jesuit Refugee Service., and JRS recently received a $1M bequest from her estate to assist refugees from the wars in the Middle East.
Grace also supported the Medical Missionaries of Mary who provide medical assistance to the poorest of the poor in Africa. She funded Our Lady of Grace Nativity School in San Jose, California which offers Catholic education to inner city girls. Grace died on Feb. 7, 2016, at the age of 94.
Fr. Ken Gavin SJ knew Grace Tevis since his early days at JRS in Washington and in the years that followed they enjoyed a warm and engaging friendship. Together they shared their commitment to the needs of the refugees that JRS served throughout the world.
"Someone once told me that a good story is never content to be just a story. I'd like to begin my comments tonight with a story told of rabbi who gathered his best and brightest young students around him and asked them what he thought was a simple by profound question: How do you know when night is gone and day has come? You know that night is gone and day is here when you can look into the eyes of the total stranger and see the eyes of a brother or sister. Until that time you are always living in darkness.